STANDISH---While many of their classmates enjoy rest during Spring Break, over 20 students at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish will generously offer their time and talent to help many in need across the country as part of the school’s “Spring Break Workfest” from March 1-7.
The initiative, now in its 29th year, provides opportunities for students to look beyond the world they know and assist the poor and marginalized, building relationships between themselves and in new communities.
Fittingly, “Spring Break Workfest” frequently falls during Lent, a period of spiritual renewal that encourages a focus on almsgiving, or charitable acts, for the benefit of others.
This year, Saint Joseph’s College students will serve at Camp Restore in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was formed in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina; Habitat for Humanity in Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Christian Appalachian Project in Kentucky, which helps people suffering from hunger and poverty; and at sites in West Virginia and Delaware.
Each day, the students will be up and out early, putting in a full day of volunteering at schools, food pantries, soup kitchens, and resource centers for the homeless. In some cases, the students will be building homes and completing repair projects.
“Spring Break Workfest” began in 1992, an idea of Sister Michele Aronica, RSM, and Sister Sylvia Comer, RSM. The goals of the program include raising the students’ awareness of issues facing people from other areas, providing an immersion experience, and offering participants with the opportunity to share their gifts while exploring their spirituality.
“We came to understand some important things,” said Sister Michele. “First, our students are interested in service. Second, they make meaningful connections on these trips. And third, the experience changes them. They begin to see service as part of their social responsibility.”
A special section has been created on the Diocese of Portland’s website featuring resources to assist you during your Lenten journey, including Mass times; special event listings; opportunities for discussion, prayer, and study; presentations of the Stations of the Cross; a “Saints of Lent” section; faith formation and Scripture reflections; retreat information; and Lenten messages from Pope Francis. The site will be updated throughout Lent.