Summer Service Week 2023

by Laurie Lindauer, Communications Manager, SSND North American Vocation Team

Road sign: City of Ellington, population 987.I departed a little before 8 a.m. on the morning of June 12, 2023. The sun was shining and the sky was a clear, deep blue with some puffy white clouds. The drive from St. Louis to Ellington (Missouri) was scenic. The first half, on major routes, provided views of rolling hills in the distance, even as I was going up and down on the highway itself. The second half was mostly two-lane country roads, winding through tunnels of trees that dotted the path with shadows. It was isolated and rural, peaceful yet lonely. Fortunately, I was listening to episodes of the SSND podcast to help pass the time over the two-plus hour ride.

I was on my way to Whole Kids Outreach (WKO) for the SSND Summer Service Week, at the invitation of the North American Vocation Team (NAVT). This was going to be my first experience spending more than a few hours with SSND, especially the NAVT. I was finally going to be 3-D with SSND! And although I wouldn’t be able to spend the entire week with them, I was very much looking forward to our time together.

I arrived to warm welcomes and a brief of the day’s plans, and then we set to work. There were areas to be cleaned after the winter months to prepare for the arrival of summer campers the following week. We shoveled and raked and swept off patios and porches. There was shopping to do to stock up on needed supplies. We were able to sit in on Sister Anne’s training session for the teen camp staff at WKO. [Sister Anne Francioni is the WKO Executive Director.] She does such an amazing job preparing the teens to care for and lead the young campers, attuning to the needs of all.

Best of all was the time in community, preparing and sharing our lunch and dinner meals together in the Giving House. I learned that Sister Carol Jean can cook meat on the grill like a pro, that Bananagrams is a fun game to play, and that there are more details to everyone’s vocation story than you first hear.

Eventually, I needed to start my return journey home before dark settled over the rural backroads. Although I was not able to stay for evening prayer, I felt that the entire day was a prayer, full of ministry and community, and a spiritually and professionally growthful day for me.

The Summer Service Week continued until Friday, June 16, with several more tasks completed at WKO, including a home visit to a family and baking 150 mini cakes for the campers to decorate. This support of the newly affiliated SSND ministry was fun and fulfilling, and I look forward to returning next year.  As Blessed Theresa once said,

“With the dear Lord what we do is less important than how we do it. Through a good intention and a pure motive, everything becomes divine service.”

The Vocation Team takes a break from sweeping during Summer Service Week 2023.

Sister Anne Francioni trains her summer staff at Whole Kids Outreach where she is Executive Director.

Sister Carol Jean Dust cooking on the BBQ grill.

Sister Carol Jean Dust, grillmaster.

Service means making 150 mini-cakes for summer campers at Whole Kids Outreach!