Kids on a Mission

Stephanie Gregoire helps paint a house during her time at Catholic Heartwork Camp. Submitted Photo

Inspiring, eye-opening, and life-changing, is how local students described a recent mission trip to Kansas City, Kan. Hailing from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waconia, St. Bernard’s in Cologne, and Ascension in Norwood, 45 students, ranging from eighth grade to recent high school graduates, and 10 chaperones put their talents to work July 15-21 at Catholic Heartwork Camp.
The camp is not a typical camp setting. There are no crafts or organized sports. Those involved slept on air mattresses in the classrooms of Bishop Miege Catholic High School. Instead, the students were grouped with other teens from around the country to participate in community service projects throughout Kansas City.
While some stripped paint off homes, others did landscaping work, helped prepare a park for preservation, or helped children improve their reading levels.
With so many memories wrapped into one week, it’s hard to choose just one favorite moment. For Luke Kleindl, it was going out every day and seeing the positive impact he was having on the residents.
Natalie Johnson said the experience gave her a renewed sense of thankfulness for all she has. For Megan Siebert, connecting with other Catholic teens was rewarding. Chaperone Paulette Halloran said the group didn’t realize how much of a difference they had made in the lives of the residents until they left. During Resident Day on the last day of the trip, those helped by CHWC shared their stories and thanks. Halloran described it as “powerful.”
“I’m reminded of how amazing our youth really are,” she said.
For the students, it was equally as rewarding, as they made connections not only with those in their home church groups, but across the nation.
“You got to see a different side of everybody,” Johnson said.
“A lot of times you don’t get to see the faith side,” Paddy Halloran said. “[At CHWC] the walls are gone.”
Paulette Halloran said the whole trip was inspirational for everyone involved and that the students are looking forward to future mission trips.
“I can’t imagine not being a part of it,” she said. “The giving keeps on giving.”
In all, 45 students and 10 chaperones went to Kansas City. Those attending from St. Joseph in Waconia included Allie Barrett, Dylan Bueltel, Jarod Devins, Alexandra Doeden, Amy Doeden, Olivia Doeden, Marc Folz, Becca Gregoire, Stephanie Gregoire, Todd Gregoire, Tyler Gregoire, Katianne Halloran, Keghan Halloran, Margaret Halloran, Paddy Halloran, Holly Heldt, Jeffery Hennen, Elizabeth Honnold, Kate Hudges, Natalie Johnson, Ali Klein, Molly Klima, Nicole Lamkin, Mackenzie Loutzenhiser, McKenzie Monson, Renee Monson, Ann Parvey, Paige Parvey, John Pohland, Mari Rathke, Justin Rogers, Rachael Sanborn, Jennifer Schuette, Christy Schultz, Kiersten Short, Megan Siebert, Carter Smith, Tracy Smith, Nick Sokolis, Janelle Weber, Mitch Weber, Abigail Wessale, Hanna Wille, and Garrett Williams. Those from St. Bernard in Cologne and Ascension in Norwood included Raven Conagh-Blount, Rachel Hegseth, Stephanie Hegseth, Brett Kleindl, Julie Kleindl, Luke Kleindl, Megan Timmers, Kyra Vercande, and Hilary Wickenhauser.