Ronan O’Hara of Charlestown, a junior at Boston College High School, spent a most rewarding and uplifting week, from June 17 to 23, at a service retreat at the Brady Faith Center in Syracuse, New York.
O’Hara with nine of his classmates, under the guidance of BC High teachers, Nick Argento and Ryan Dacey, worked in the St. Lucy’s food pantry, which offers a free hot lunch to anyone. The boys ate lunch with many of the guests and then helped clean up, break down, and then set up for a graduation ceremony that was held that night. And outside at St. Lucy’s Parish stone garden they did some cleanup, and built two vegetable gardens.
They took a walking tour of West Syracuse and South Syracuse. West Syracuse is the most poverty stricken part of the US for blacks and South Syracuse is the most poverty stricken part of the U.S. for Latinos according to the U.S. Census.
They gathered each night for two hours to pray, share what they experienced and learned in a contemplation discussion group with members of the Brady Faith Center who led them in reflection, journal writing, and prayer.
They made pancakes for people who participate in a bicycle program called ‘Pedals 2 Possibilities’ through the Brady Faith Center and they helped out by clearing a trail for their neighbors on the Center’s sustainability farm.
They listened to Andrew Lunetta, director of “A Tiny Home For Good “which supports those facing homelessness by providing affordable, safe, and dignified homes and fostering strong community partnerships to ensure resident stability.
They visited the Jail Ministry for the Diocese of Syracuse and the Onondaga County Justice Center, a grassroots, social justice, spiritually founded community collective organized to advocate on behalf of the incarcerated; to promote peace-making and to advance the protection of human dignity within the community.
They made dinner at LeMoyne and brought it along to a singing prayer service at L’Arche Community homes, a people living and working together to build a relationship with each other, putting God at the center of the relationship those with developmental disabilities.
On departure day The Brady Faith Center held an outdoor mass to thank the BC High retreatants and at the mass the celebrants and ministers washed the boys’ feet as a sign of appreciation and gratitude.