Love Begins Here missionaries are pictured with Edith Leuenberger after helping her with some work around the house as part of their service efforts in Monroe this summer. Pictured from left are: leader Nicky Kaehler, Srholl Gahng, Jacob Bausch, Gwen Miller, and Toula Goumas. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)
To view or purchase photos, visit www.madisoncatholicherald.smugmug.com
MONROE -- “We are missionaries who work with passion, knowing we can bring God’s love to our brothers and sisters who hunger. Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by its sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.”
The proceeding words are part of the Love Begins Here (LBH) “manifesto,” new for the 2014 summer sessions based on the words of St. John Paul II, Pope Francis, and Blessed Mother Teresa.
Every day, before the middle schoolers or high schoolers, known as “missionaries,” went out to begin their work with their car groups -- a group of kids and teens assigned together for the week under the leadership of an adult leader -- they and the car leaders recited the manifesto.
“It’s beautiful, it’s short, it’s succinct, and it really gets to the point of what this mission is,” said Lindsay Becher, LBH mission director and coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Madison.
“One of the things we hope it does is articulate the mission when they go home or just even to the people that they are serving, that they’re able to explain what they’re all about.”
Love Begins Here works to provide the youth in the diocese with an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in a life changing way through weeklong, local mission trips where they live in Catholic community and continue his work on earth.
This summer was the sixth season of LBH, and the combined efforts of the missionaries helped to reach a few milestones.
Since the program began in 2009, LBH missionaries have given more than 10,000 hours of service to communities in the diocese. This year also saw the largest group ever as 119 middle schoolers took part in the Lancaster week in mid-July. Almost 400 kids served as missionaries this summer, along with more than 50 adults who served on the core team and as chaperones.
The sacrifice of work
LBH headed to Monroe for its last week of the summer. For more than 80 high school teens and their leaders, St. Clare of Assisi Parish was their home.
Most of the volunteer work was done in the Monroe area, but on Wednesday of that week, the group headed to Darlington for the first time at the insistence of some missionaries from there.