Is there anything more exciting for a pre-teen and teenagers to do than pulling nasty bindweed, creeping Charlie, thistle and daisy fleabane from an acre of native plants? Perhaps more interesting would be pulling invasive daisy fleabane or digging out stubborn buckthorn seedlings or hauling water jugs and watering new plants!! How about doing those tasks when the temperature readings were in the high 80s? That is what the group of six students and one leader carried out at Marywood, the campus of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, this past week.
And their spirit was amazing even though on some days they could have used more sleep. They got along well and seemed to enjoy each other. And I believe they may have learned a little about the great benefits that native plants offer the whole web of life and perhaps even the names of a few plants. Of course they will never forget that native plants are important to slowing global climate change. We are grateful for Katalyn, Maggie, McKenzie, Megan, Karen, Payten, Justin — and their willing service and wish them blessings as they continue their journey of service to God’s world. — Sister Lucille Janowiak
This week, 80 kids from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Pennsylvania converged on Grand Rapids. They attend chapel and programs, eat breakfast and dinner and sleep at West Catholic. After prayer, they disperse to several sites including the Prairie at Dominican Center at Marywood, Hope Academy, St. Vincent DePaul, and more.
They are one of several groups of youth, 50 to 300 at a time, doing service around the USA with Catholic Heart Work Camp. The non-profit organization’s mission is two-fold: To share the love of Christ as we serve the neglected, brokenhearted and the marginalized in any way needed. Equally, to inspire participants to live as disciples of Christ through serving others as a way of life; and to foster the Catholic Faith of each participant through the sacraments, prayer and involvement in social service.
That’s certainly a mission that aligns with the mission of the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.
“This crew is about SERVICE, CONNECTION and LOVING OTHERS and we love them for their generous, faithful spirit,” says Grand Rapids Dominican Sister Lucille Janowiak. This team has been assisting Sr. Lucille with maintenance of the Prairie Habitat at Marywood.
Justin, a 15-year-old, says working with Sr. Lucille Janowiak on the Prairie has been “pretty cool.” “We get to help people and we get to learn about global warming, carbon emissions and carbon footprints.”
Megan, another 15-year-old is amazed at Sr. Lucille’s knowledge. “She rattles off the plant names, she just knows so much.”
Twelve-year-old Mattie chimes in: “For every foot of plant, there are two feet of roots and that helps clean the water running into the water where people fish for food.”
Katelyn Kovalik, photographer, driver, and chaperone of this team is clearly moved by a new ecological mentor and instructor of all things green and good for Earth. “Sr. Lucille is very passionate; a prayerful passionate. You can tell she is praying as she works.”