For 10 Newman students, spring break week wasn’t spent at home or on a beach. Instead, they spent their limited days off in service to others, growing spiritually and in fellowship with each other.
Caritas Christi, a Campus Ministry service retreat March 13-15, took students to Lincoln, Nebraska. St. Joseph Center, the main hub for Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska, is making a new garden to supplement its food pantry with fresh produce, so Newman students helped build a fence around the garden’s location.
Manasse Matala, a sophomore majoring in nursing, participated in the service trip.
“The food market allows individuals or families to receive food items once a month,” Matala explained. “Volunteers accompany the patrons while they scan the shelves and select what is best fitted for them or their families.”
“They give lots of fresh food out when available in addition to the nonperishable items that are always available,” he continued. “The market also shares nutritional information and recipes with its patrons.”
Hadassah Umbarger, a senior majoring in English, ultimately decided to go when she realized that it was her last service retreat at Newman. Many of the students on the service trip will graduate in May and Umbarger knew she wanted to spend this time with them. By the time they started the van ride, she knew she was in for a treat.
Some of the retreat’s activities included playing mini golf and laser tag, having Mass together in the mornings in the group’s Airbnb, eating meals together and visiting the St. Newman Center located on the campus.
“We don’t usually think of van rides as being fun and exciting, but with Campus Ministry they definitely are. That was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip,” said Umbarger.
Nathan Galicia, a freshman biomedical science major, also decided to spend his spring break in service. As soon as he heard about Caritas Christi, he was in.
“I saw it involved manual labor and Jesus, which sounded like a perfect combination,” said Galicia.
For Galicia, the best takeaway is “how much one small act can change someone’s life.”
“Helping with the fence gives them more time to grow more produce. They provide food for single mothers, the homeless and people with financial needs around their community. We got to help with a small part of that process which meant a lot to me. I love getting to help those in need because we get to show God’s love to others through our actions,” said Galicia.
Umbarger added that every Campus Ministry retreat brings her closer to friends and Christ.
“I am an introvert, and it was definitely a bit of a sacrifice to give part of my spring break away, but it was good to give myself and laugh alongside these people,” said Umbarger.
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