For the 15th year, Viatorian Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie led teens from St. Patrick Parish to help residents in one of the poorest areas in the country: Pembroke Township, located less than 30 minutes from their homes in Kankakee and Bourbonnais. DSC08442

“I truly feel that working in Pembroke is carrying out Fr. Querbes’ vision, of working ‘with those accounted of little or no importance,’ ” Michelle says.

They set up camp at Sacred Heart Church, run by the Servants of the Holy Heart of Mary sisters, and worked in teams on a variety of projects. They ranged from building an outdoor pavilion and storage shed, to adding porch railings to two senior-citizens’ homes and working on church grounds.

They helped with food distribution at an area food pantry, sorted books at a new public library in Pembroke, and even added a steeple to the church.DSC08602

Nearly 40 students in all spent the week in Pembroke, including many who return year after year.

“There are countless ways I see God while I’m there,” says Layla Funk, who returned and served as a young adult leader.

Another teen, Jake Kuntz, said making the trip helps him get his priorities straight.

“Pembroke brings the best out of me and my friends,” Jake says, “because it is about setting aside the typical day to day teenage life and instead committing ourselves to the service of others.”