Wild Rice teens serve as hands and feet of Christ

by Parishioners of St. Benedict's Church, Wild Rice

Teens of St. Benedict’s Church in serve food to those in need as part of their mission trip to Knoxville, Tenn. from June 24 to July 1. (submitted photo)

St. Benedict’s Church in Wild Rice had eight youth and two adults attend the Catholic Conference Alive in You in Knoxville, Tenn. Our students opened their hearts and willingly gave themselves to serve food, hand out clothing, and clean under a bridge. We all worked long hours but were thankful at the end of the day to have a roof over our heads and three meals a day! Throughout our experience, we recalled Matthew 20:28, “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many.” The following are reflections from youth from St. Benedict’s. –Catie Vetter, youth director

Being in Knoxville, I learned how privileged I am to have a family who cares about me and provides for me. The homeless in Knoxville don’t have a place to stay, food to eat, or enough clothes to wear. One of our worksites was at the Knoxville Dream Center where every Wednesday they would feed around 200 homeless people. I wasn’t expecting so many people to be there, homeless and volunteers. Some people didn’t talk much, but others told long stories. One guy said he played with Michael Jordan. Some of the people weren’t homeless but had to decide to buy food that week or pay bills. This was a very cool and educational experience. I realized how difficult it was for others, and what I can do to help. –John Sikorski

On our first day, we drove to an area in Knoxville where we did a grocery type service for homeless and low-income people to get items they needed. I helped in a kitchen where I cut up tomatoes and lettuce and made rice and beans. That evening we served food to the homeless instead of returning to the Alive in You conference for dinner. I felt good helping but also sad that this is where people live and get their food. It made me feel more grateful for what I have. On the third day, we went to a thrift store and painted bathrooms. This was hard work but our group made it fun and the work went quickly. A man at the thrift store told us that because we helped paint the bathroom, it gave him more time to spend with his dying mother. –Sophie Richard

In Knoxville I saw some things that I needed to see. I got the opportunity to distribute clothing to the homeless at a weekly free dinner under the interstate bridge. I was in charge of the pants and shorts and would try to give them the size they wanted. However, we ran out of smaller waist sizes. By the end of the dinner men would and ask for a size 34 waist and would leave with anywhere from a size 44 to 48. They were so happy to get clean pants that they didn’t mind. They didn’t care about the look, or fit, just that they had something to wear. That’s something that I will think about for a long time. –Ben Sikorski

On our first day at the worksites, we learned about the Lost Sheep foundation at the Knoxville Dream Center. It was started by a women raised homeless but became a nurse and got off the streets. She started serving a meal every Wednesday under the bridge. They have served a meal every Wednesday for 44 years. We met someone who said she would sometimes make enough meals for 250 people all by herself. During the witness talks, I started to understand what God was doing for me and that he has a plan. I realized that if I want to be a good Christin and overall person, I should start to live the way Jesus did. –Thomas Sikorski

One of the staff at the Knoxville Dream Center told us that he once heard a little girl say to her mom that she was happy that they did not have to find food in the garbage bins that night. Also, a lady came up to me and asked me if there was a place for clothing because she had worn the same clothes for years. This really got me thinking. We take so much of what we have for granted. Instead of whining about what we don’t have, it’s important to thank God and count our blessings for the things we do. It’s important to give back and help those in need by doing things as simple as helping out in a shelter, praying for them, or donating clothing and food. I encourage you to count your blessings every day and thank God for all he has done for you. –Katie Sikorski