Youths making a difference inspire us all

It’s that time of year in homes when brothers and sisters are getting on each other’s nerves – and Mom’s and Dad’s, too. The close-quarters bickering means that the end of summer is in sight as children (and young adults) prepare to head back to school.

Kids have been taking it easy and having fun during the lazy summertime. Some of them, anyway.

As readers of this week’s edition will discover, some remarkable teens have spent their time off helping others and understanding better the world in which they live. Not only has the summer break been rejuvenating for them, but as adults learn the teens’ stories of summer vacation, we too gain much hope for that younger generation. They are engaging the faith they’ve learned at home and in church through various projects, including:

* The CYO group at St. Pius X Parish in Broomall, representing students of Catholic and public schools, organized in teams to help spruce up a home for disabled people and a convent.

* Two students of St. Stanislaus School in Lansdale raised funds by selling tacos and Christmas ornaments, and getting their parish involved, to support a project for clean water and health care for a village in Tanzania.

* A group of teens took time to learn close-up about life among young people in the Holy Land, about the tensions Israelis and Palestinians face and the work being done to promote peace through a local educational program of Catholic Relief Services.

* Living with arthritis is not easy for anyone, but it’s doubly difficult for a child who expects to run and play with ease. Not so for a 12-year-old girl dealing with juvenile arthritis, who nevertheless spends considerable time raising awareness of the disease and lobbying lawmakers to address it.

* Then there is the student of Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote who worked on a housing rehabilitation project among the needy residents of Kentucky in Appalachia – some of America’s poorest – only to return home and become a victim of violence.

Bill Richter suffered a broken jaw after he was jumped at random near his neighborhood. Perhaps it was the experience of living among people with few luxuries, or trying to make sense of senseless violence, or reflecting on the meaning of suffering and Jesus’ command to forgive.

Bill took the opportunity to consider the blessings in his life and find ways to reach out to people he hurt in the past, and reconcile with them.
In this lesson and all of the above, young people learned as much about life than they could in a classroom. No doubt they had some fun with family and friends this summer. But it was in the activities of service and solidarity, both close to home and far afield, that they grew as young men and women and members of the Church.

Read their full stories within these pages and be filled with pride in your fellow Catholics. Remember that what they did on their summer vacation they did by choice, not requirement. There is indeed hope for the Church and the world with such good young people growing in the faith, and living it in word and deed.