2012 assembly portraitThis summer, Viatorian Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie will return to rural Pembroke Township, where they have led high school teens on mission trips for the last 10 years.

The remote area is located just 30 minutes from Kankakee, IL, where Viatorians serve at four parishes, but in the words of Ken and Michelle, “It seems far, far away.”

Pembroke has been described as one of the poorest townships in the nation, and during the annual “Hearts of Hope Mission,” teens help local residents with everything from painting, cleaning and landscaping, to small repair and building projects.

Now, it turns out that their work has not gone unnoticed. In the latest newsletter from the Superior General of the Viatorians, Fr. Alain Ambeault, CSV, the Barries are showcased for living out one of the priorities of the Viatorian Community, of serving those “accounted of little importance.”

“We are enriched by the witness of our brothers and sisters,” Fr. Ambeault says. “May their example help to draw us closer to those whom our texts describe as ‘the most abandoned.’ ”

Down in Pembroke, the week they spend in service turns out to be one of the hottest in the summer, yet the Barries and their students carry on, working long, hard days to improve the lives and living conditions of local families, before returning at night for prayer services and discussion.

“Justice does not invite us to do things for the poor,” the Barries say, “but rather to do things with the poor, at the service of the community.”