Students 'Give Heart Away' at Catholic Conference Center
HICKORY — Remaining a faithful Catholic can be difficult for college students. Thankfully, programs such as Catholic Campus Ministries can help students by providing opportunities like the "Give Your Heart Away" event held this year at the Catholic Conference Center Feb. 10-12. The three-day annual retreat is offered to students from about 20 colleges in the Diocese of Charlotte.
Karen Soos, Catholic campus minister at Davidson College, coordinated the event this year and said she was pleased with the turnout. More than 60 students from nine campuses attended, including a few from the newly-established Catholic Campus Ministry at Wingate University.
Pictured: Catholic Campus Ministry students get to work painting the outside of the Family Care Center Thrift Store in Hickory, which supports a homeless shelter for families, during a three-day annual retreat held recently for college students. (Photo provided by Matt Newsome )
The majority of students are first-timers but some were returning. Soos says that for many students, Catholic Campus Ministries is how they identify with others on campus.
The purpose of the retreat was to promote service and the theme centered on 1 Peter 4:8-11, which reads, in part, "As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace."
The weekend began with Friday evening icebreakers, prayer and small group sharing. On Saturday, students split into groups and went to work. Some painted the exterior of the Family Care Center Thrift Store, which supports a homeless shelter for families. The Maryvale sisters in Vale had helpers working in their library, doing some renovations in the preschool, and cleaning a section of local road for the "Adopt a Highway" program.
Resource Warehouse & Gallery is a thrift store created by Safe Harbor, a Christian-based residential facility. At the gallery, students sorted donations and cleaned up the thrift store. At the Heritage Care Center, a group home for adults with mental disabilities, the students coordinated a Valentine's Day dance and gave the residents relaxing hand massages.
One group stayed behind at the Catholic Conference Center to do some walking trail repairs and cleaning as a way of saying "thank you" for it hosting the weekend.
Soos said the hope is that the students will see how their service connects to Church teaching. "We feel this is our one shot during the year to present them with the incredible gift of our Catholic tradition about social justice."
— Jennifer Krawiec, correspondent
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