Young Missionaries Provide Service During Blizzard in NEPA
by Anna Padron, Elizabeth Benjamin, Julianne Nichter, and Keri Kelly
Pictured L-R: Sarah Tevlin, Kat Kelly (chaperone), Sister Ave Maria Foley, Mia Leto, and Claire Leto. On day two of the blizzard, the missionaries baked cookies and cupcakes with sisters in OLP households 2A and 4C. The goodies were enjoyed at the sisters’ St. Patrick’s Day party that afternoon.
Arriving in Scranton there was much anticipation in the air of predicted snowfall, eagerness to serve others, and to share many adventures in Pennsylvania.
Before the snow we were able to work with the kids at NativityMiguel School, the residents at St. Joseph's Center, and the medically fragile children at Trinity Day Care. At NativityMiguel, we taught the 5th grade students how to think creatively using clay to create stop motion movies and we taught the 6th grade students various life lessons using sock puppets to portray contemporarily Bible parables. At St. Joseph’s Center, missionaries interacted with the physically and mentally disabled adults. At Trinity Day Care, we played with and took care of the medically fragile children.
From Tuesday through Thursday, the term “snowed-in” had a new meaning for all of the Scranton missionaries. After getting record amounts of snow from a blizzard, many of the trip’s service sights were cancelled due to the dangerous conditions, such as spending time with the homeless women at Ruth’s Place, talking to a local youth group, and returning to the St. Joseph’s and Trinity Centers. However, this did not have a negative effect on the missionaries’ positive attitudes. The missionaries set out on foot to help neighbors and local organizations shovel snow out of their driveways and off of their cars after the snowfall. The people of Scranton were so appreciative of the hard work of the missionaries and their enthusiasm showed how a small act of kindness can make a difference in people’s everyday lives. During the snowfall we were also able to walk to Our Lady of Peace, a residence for older sisters. We baked desserts with the sisters for their St. Patrick’s Day party and we spent time with the older nuns, talking about ourselves and learning a little bit more from their stories.
On Friday, the missionaries served food at the annual Friends of the Poor St. Patrick’s Day charity dinner. All the food was free and anyone was welcome. There was an Irish band playing and some people even got up to dance
in the aisles between tables. Academy girls were able to serve beverages and platters of food, interact with Scranton residents, and make the centerpieces for the dinner. For Scrantonians, the dinner was a way to escape the cold, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and eat out, maybe for the only time this year.
Although the snow put a damper on the plans the Scranton trip had to serve, it did not affect the bonding that took place between the missionaries. Many of the girls barely knew their fellow missionaries that were in different grades at the beginning of the trip. Through prayer services full of opportunities to notice each other’s talents, share things they struggle with, and make friendship bracelets, the girls got to know each other and were quickly able to laugh together and have a deeper understanding of each other.
The final day in Scranton was a collection of hugs and tears from the sisters. We gathered in the lobby of the IHM center and said farewell for another year, took pictures as a group, and loaded on the bus. As we drove away, a few sisters gathered and threw snowballs at the bus as a final goodbye.
We will always hold these sisters and our experiences close to our hearts and will never forget the blizzard of 2017 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Pictured L-R: Claire Leto, Anna Padron, Julianne Richter, Isabella Cartaya, and Dee Prendergast (chaperone). On day two of the blizzard, the girls helped shovel out vehicles at St. Joseph’s Center as well as neighboring convents.