BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — While many of his high school friends probably spent Thursday taking in some rays on the beach, Ted Holahan was busy pulling weeds at Caroline House, a Bridgeport-based nonprofit.
The service work was part of “The SHU Journey: To God and the World Through the Catholic Tradition,” Sacred Heart University’s new six-day summer residential program for teens looking to find their place in the world.
“I wanted to expand my faith and become more involved in community service,” said Holahan, who lives in New Canaan. “It’s been fun.”
Supported by a $559,654 grant from the Lilly Endowment, The SHU Journey brought 33 students from around the state to the Fairfield campus, where university professors, diocesan staff and Sacred Heart student mentors led the teens on an exploration of faith and self-development.
Each student received a scholarship from the Lilly grant, making the whole experience free for participants, said Kim Primicerio, assistant director of media relations.
The week began with a Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. Francis Caggiano, bishop of Bridgeport, and included a talk by nationally known Catholic speaker Kerry Robinson, a day trip to The Cloisters and service trips to Thomas Merton Center, Maggie Daly Arts Co-op and Hall Neighborhood House and other Bridgeport organizations.
All participants were high school students interested in becoming leaders in their faith, whether it be at the local parish level or nationally. Organizers felt it would appeal to students involved in churches, campus ministry, music ministry and community service, according to Michelle Loris, chair of the University’s Department of Catholic Studies.
Jessica Power, a sophomore from Torrington, spent her Thursday raking up old mulch outside Caroline House, which operates a preschool and offers language and life skills training for low-income families.
“It just seemed really interesting to me,” she said of The SHU Journey. “I felt I was called to do it.”
She found Robinson’s words so inspiring she hopes to reach out to her for advice on advancing in church-based work.
Fairfield Prep student Nick Loris said he mom, SHU Journey organizer Michelle Loris, encouraged him to apply to the program, but he has enjoyed the time on Sacred Heart’s campus.
“I like retreats and it’s been a great experience,” he said.
To learn more about The SHU Journey, visit the Sacred Heart University website .
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