Brendan Patton ’25 returned for his second year as a leader in Saint Viator High School’s Service & Song Camp. On its second day, he led a team of middle school and high school students in weeding the Viatorian Community Garden, on the grounds of the Province Center. With 25 raised beds, its mission is to feed the hungry, by raising fresh vegetables for area food pantries.

Brendan Patton with his wheelbarrow and some of his team members

“I like getting to know the middle schoolers,” Brendan said. “I want to give them a positive impression before they start freshman orientation. Hopefully, they have as much fun doing service as I do.”

Back in 2013, Fr. Corey Brost, CSV, started this unique summer camp, which aims to give students experience in providing direct service to local social service agencies and at individual homes. He hoped the week would instill the Viatorian charism, to “embrace those accounted of little importance.”

“Our intention was to let students directly serve those most in need in the local community,” Fr. Brost says, “and learn why service is at the heart of a lived‐out Catholic faith.”

Mia D’Souza empties her weeds into a barrel.

Young people are divided up into teams and each day they spread out to sites across Chicago’s Northwest suburbs. Their work ranges from helping with landscaping at the homes of local seniors, and making blankets for veterans; to collecting food and going to facilities that feed the hungry, including Catholic Charities, Feed My Starving Children and the Wheeling Township food pantry.

The camp will conclude Friday with Mass in the school’s Alumni Memorial Chapel, celebrated by Fr. John Eustice, CSV, who is a former leader of the camp.

Associate Ann Perez and her daughter, Sarah, share a moment together.

Mia D’Souza, a sixth grader from Mount Prospect, is a newcomer to the camp, but she knows about service. She and her family regularly volunteer at Feed My Starving Children, but she had other reasons for enrolling in the camp.

“I wanted to make new friends — and have fun,” Mia said.

This year, Viatorian associates are leading the camp, while many of the Viatorians prepare to leave for Rome for the community’s General Chapter. Associates serving as team leaders include: Brigette Brankin, Barb and Larry D’Urso, Kurt Paprocki and Ann Perez. In doing so, they’re helping young people actively live the Saint Viator mission of transforming the communities they encounter.

“The camp gives students the opportunity to form community and to go out to serve those who are in need,” said Ann Perez, camp director and Assistant to the President for Mission. “They have fun playing games and also take the time to pray and reflect on who God is calling them to be as disciples of Christ in the world.”