I first came to Bethlehem Farm as a Summer Servant after my freshman year of college in 2005. After a few weeks of feigning knowledge of Farm chores (“Where would you think you would find work gloves?”), spelunking, and living the gospel in an authentic way, I was hooked. I’ve been traveling back to Clayton Rd – often with lots of friends – ever since. My favorite Farm activities include scything the hill, narrating character-driven reviews of the day, praying, and getting a tad over-competitive at River of Life kickball. Currently, I reside Noblesville, Indiana, and coordinate a junior high youth ministry, lead a young adult ministry, and direct communications at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. I’ve got a knack for playing games, sharing about faith, and telling stories. I married Alicen in 2009 and have two daughters, Jules & Eve. Our family loves the Farm and my work on the board is, ultimately, to ensure that Bethlehem Farm continues and thrives.
Michael Newman (Vice-Chair), IT Consultant in St Louis, MO
My relationship with Bethlehem Farm started like many others – a high school group week. Little did I know that the powerful simplicity of its mission, paired with its successful real-world application, would inspire so much of the foundation upon which I’ve built my own adult life. Ever since that week, I have made a point to keep in touch with the Farm, through attending more group weeks, serving as a summer servant, and just making an effort to visit my good friends who live and work there. Now, several years after that transformative week, I am excited and honored to serve on its board. Working as a professional in the dynamic world of Information Technology has enabled me to exercise my passion in forming sustainable and charitable practices/processes, assisting several large organizations in doing just that. Not only am I excited to bring my experience to the board, but to also continue to learn from the Farm in new and exciting ways.
John Hannagan (Treasurer), Fishers IN
John (often called “Pappy” at the Farm) lives in Fishers, Indiana. Retired from management in the financial sector, John spends his time running a nonprofit organic garden and volunteering in youth ministry at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Noblesville, Indiana. He is passionate about his Catholic faith and about being a mentor to numerous young people. In 2011, John’s first visit to the Farm was a memorable one. After a lot of work, no air conditioning, and cleaning out the chicken coop (twice), John nearly gave up on the Farm. But, upon returning home, he realized what a powerful experience he had been a part of. He hasn’t missed an Adult Week since and has made massive changes to his life at home. At a trip to the Farm today, you can often find John as the top assistant to the house manager in the kitchen, where he chops vegetables and mentors others for days at a time. John brings his business acumen, enthusiasm for faith, and love for Bethlehem Farm to the Board of Directors.
Kathryn Moran (Executive Committee Member at Large),
Healthcare Account Manager in Clarksville, MD
I first visited Bethlehem Farm during Family Week 2012. I had been searching for a service experience in which my teens could participate actively. Bethlehem Farm seemed to be (and proved to be) the perfect opportunity and community. We left with great affection and admiration for Bethlehem Farm, its mission and spirit. We have tried to bring home to Maryland many of the lessons and practices learned last summer (with varying degrees of effectiveness…). We look forward to the next Family Week. I am thrilled to be serving on the Board.
Kat O’Loughlin, Campus Minister at St. Anselm College (NH)
I first visited the Farm with a group of students from College of Mount Saint Vincent, where I worked as a campus minister back in January 2014 and continued coming as a chaperone for group weeks through 2018. The experience was so transformative for myself and my students that I knew I needed to be more involved with this beautiful community. In the summer of 2017 I signed up to volunteer as a Summer Servant before I officially became a board member. I have experienced living in community with Jesuit Volunteer Corps NW and Vincentian Lay Missionaries, and have deep respect for anyone who commits themselves to the lifestyle of simplicity and community long term. I currently live and work in Manchester, NH, at Saint Anselm College where I work hard to spread the love of the Farm.
Moira Reilly, Chaplain at WVU Children’s Medicine, Morgantown WV
After hearing amazing things about Bethlehem Farm since moving to West Virginia in 2007, I finally made my inaugural visit on a Simplicity as an Act of Social Justice Retreat in February of 2009. I was hooked! I ran home and submitted my application to be a Summer Servant, and returned during my summer breaks from campus ministry over the next two years. In 2010, I applied to be a Caretaker, and moved into the Farm house in May of 2011. The following three years were filled with heritage chickens, compost, venison stew, drill bits, grant proposals, Catholic Social Teaching, and community nights. After a foray into nonprofit management in 2014, I landed in Preston County, WV as a combination-Faith Formation and Summer Home Repair-Coordinator, putting that BF home repair experience to good use! The next leg of my journey was sparked by a conversation with former Summer Servant Anna Robertson, as she shared her experience in Clinical Pastoral Education at a hospital: “Moira, this is so you”. A part-time internship in 2016 gave me a taste for chaplaincy; being God’s love to others and really “seeing” them, cultivated in me at Bethlehem Farm, and I started as a full time chaplaincy resident in August of 2016 at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV. During this transition, I felt called to continue to serve and promote justice by joining the board of Bethlehem Farm. I’m excited to be supporting the Farm in this way as it continues to Transform Lives!
Scott McNelis, Manager at ALDI in Cincinnati, OH
I am originally from Noblesville, IN, but have lived in Ohio since 2008, Cleveland first, and Cincinnati now since 2015. I am blessed to have been connected to Bethlehem Farm since before it was actually formed, when it was just an idea planted by other college students and Nazareth Farm staffers. Collen Buck-Fitts and I kept in contact and were able to coordinate a group week from Indiana University in the first winter of the Farm’s existence. After the first summer at the farm as a “Summer Servant”, college weeks, and adult weeks, I was able to bring my (former) youth ministry program from Noblesville, Indiana to the Farm. I have truly been fortunate to see the Farm from almost every angle. My wonderful wife Kera (currently a neonatologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) has been along for the ride with me the whole way since the beginning. We actually began dating shortly before that first group week, and the Farm has played a major role in our life together. By his first birthday, our son Michael had made almost a handful of trips to the Farm as well! As such, I have great memories of the Farm’s beginnings and rapid building and growth, and high hopes for its future. I am truly honored and humbled to be associated with such an amazing organization and such inspiring people.
Paul Daugherty, President and CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia
Paul’s lifelong commitment is to ensuring West Virginia and it citizens have the greatest quality of life, life-long success, and making WV a national leader in economic and community success. He became connected to Bethlehem Farm through his many years of volunteering, summer staff, and board service at Nazareth Farm having known Eric and Colleen Fitts as close friends since their time at Nazareth Farm. He brings a very diverse background of volunteer leadership, nonprofits, and rural issues having lead, founded, and/or served with numerous programs from Rural Community Development to Parks and Recreation to Education to Energy Express to Habitat for Humanity to WVU Family Nutrition Program to Rural Specialty Eye Care outreach programs and much more. His commitment, drive, and results-oriented service for improving the quality of life, housing opportunities, and communities for the citizens of West Virginia is something he looks forward to contributing in his time on the Bethlehem Farm Board.
Tricia Lally, Community Pediatrician, Rainelle Medical Center, Rainelle, WV
I felt Home as I heard the Farm Crew telling folks “Welcome Home” after a day of service. I am grateful to know, participate with and support living an intentional life of service, simplicity, prayer and community. In my 3rd decade of rural WV practice, I am co-located at the federally- qualified community health center with home visitation programs, behavioral health, school-based health, and dental services. I have the great gift of serving low-income children and empowering their families. Through partnering with a child’s community health team and the many organizations that serve families, I work to improve the well-being and life-course of children. A founding member of the Meadow River Valley Early Childhood Learning Center and a member of Greenbrier County’s Head Start Health Advisory Council and Wellness Committee, I serve as the medical consultant for the local Board of Education. Otherwise, I can be found romping the WV hills and rivers or in my garden. I look forward to partnering to sustain and grow the Bethlehem Farm mission.
Rachelle Simon, Rector of Lewis Hall at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
I was first “welcomed home” to Bethlehem Farm in Spring 2011 as a campus minister for the UMSL Newman Center group. It instantly felt like home. I was inspired by starting everyday in communal prayer, serving others through small acts, and reflecting on the Gospel cornerstones. I returned in Spring 2013 with the UMSL group again. The friends and connections I made grew deeper and I knew I was being called to the farm as a summer servant that same year. It was through my time as a Summer Servant in 2013 and 2014 that I experienced and witnessed constant conversion, growth, beauty, and holiness through the farm community. This ‘thin place’ always brings me back to myself and to God. When at the farm, you can usually find me with my hands in dish water, swinging on the porch, or having a deep life chat. I currently serve as Rector of Lewis Hall at the University of Notre Dame, where I live with 270 lovely and talented young women. This role allows me to live out my vocation of educating both hearts and minds while ensuring the Lewis community remains hospitable, safe, and fun! I’m deeply honored to share my passion and hard work with Bethlehem Farm as a board member.
Tim Shovlin, Assistant Director of Operations, University of Dayton Student Life
I have the very fortunate opportunity to complete the Grand Slam of serving as a volunteer, Summer Servant, Caretaker, and now board member. I first came to the farm in 2010 with Walsh Jesuit and after five summers as a Summer Servant, I moved in as a Caretaker in the summer of 2016 and returned to Ohio in January 2018. Since my return, I got married to my wonderful wife Alyssa and now work back at my alma mater, the University of Dayton. I serve as the Assistant Director of Operations for Student Life where I supervise 35 student employees who help oversee our student union. What hooked me and kept me coming back all of those years was the people involved with Bethlehem Farm. The Caretakers, Summer Servants, and board members over the years have had such a huge impact on my life and I only hoped to follow in their footsteps and be able to help in any way I could. I couldn’t be happier to continue to support this community with such a great group of people committed to the common good.
Brenna Davis, Educational Resource and Environmental Justice Campaigns Coordinator at Ignatian Solidarity Network, Cleveland, OH
My first trip to Bethlehem Farm was in 2011 when I brought a group of students from Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, OH, for spring break. As a teacher I definitely enjoyed breaks from school; however, I was so moved by the experience of the cornerstones at the farm that I volunteered to bring students the following 5 years. One of my favorite parts of being at the Farm is being with students without cell phones. It brings out a creativity and level of conversation that’s hard to find in the everyday. I currently work at the Ignatian Solidarity Network as the Educational Resource and Environmental Justice Campaigns Coordinator and still live with one of my JVC community members in Cleveland. I am a certified spiritual director in the Ignatian tradition and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler. In my spare time I like to read, run, bullet journal, and dig through random trash cans to properly sort recycling.
Are you interested in joining this great team? We are always looking for passionate & qualified members to join the Bethlehem Farm Board. Call or email Eric Fitts, Director, for more information. 304-445-7143. firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Board Members
Caitlin Morneau, Student and Nonprofit Administrator, Alexandria, VA
I was introduced to the Farms through my campus minister and former caretaker, Julie Tracy. While studying at the University of New Hampshire, I attended two spring break trips to Nazareth Farm, which led to several terms of Summer Servanthood at Bethlehem Farm. Each time, I left with a changed heart and a new perspective on life, God, and the world around me. For the last seven years I have worked in administrative and programmatic capacities at organizations in the Washington, DC area such as Catholic Volunteer Network, Youth Service Opportunities Project, Catholic Charities of Baltimore and Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. I am currently serving as Director of Restorative Justice with Catholic Mobilizing Network and working to complete an MA in Conflict Transformation at Eastern Mennonite University. I live with my husband, Aaron, and dog, Sydney, in Alexandria, VA.
Molly Linehan, Director of Campus Ministry at Charleston Catholic HS, Charelston WV
Bethlehem Farm’s reputation preceded my first visit in 2010. Finally seeing the place, I was awed by the global and local: Tibetan Prayer Flags hanging among laundry drying from the rails of the second floor loft. I have lived in El Salvador (2 years) and India (just one) and traveled a great deal before declaring West Virginia my home. Creating a culture of service, then transitioning that service to a vision of vocation and mission has been central in the work I’ve done. There are few places like Bethlehem Farm who live that vision of mission. I’m thankful to find a community of such integrity right here in West Virginia.
Jennie Motto Mesterharm, Small Business Lending Manager at Accion Chicago, Chicago, IL
I visited Nazareth Farm as a college student in 2007 and really enjoyed the experience of living in community and focusing on service, prayer, and simplicity for a week. After I graduated, I spent a couple of years living and working at an orphanage in Honduras with the same cornerstones (or pillars, as we called them). I still strive to prioritize faith, community, service, and simplicity in my daily life, although these can look very different now than they did during my time volunteering. I was first introduced to Bethlehem Farm by Jake Teitgen (current board member and long-time Bethlehem Farm fanatic) and am humbled and excited to be part of the Farm community. I currently work at Accion Chicago (a non-profit that makes micro-loans to small business owners)and really enjoy working with the high school youth group at Old St. Patrick’s Church and volunteering for Ladder Up (an organization that provides free financial programs to families in the Chicagoland area) in my free time. My life is never boring because I am married to Mike D, a tall ginger who tells ridiculous stories, loves to laugh, and is endlessly patient. We look forward to shared Bethlehem Farm adventures over the years to come!
Sharyl Pels, Attorney, Washington, D.C. & Juneau, AK (2015-2018)
I first came to the farm as a high school retreatant, and I have been coming back as a “Seasonal Servant” over my fall and spring breaks from school ever since! I particularly love working in the garden, meeting the neighbors, going on Eric’s star tours, and exploring with Miriam. I graduated from law school at Indiana University in May 2015, where I served on the Parish Council at St. Paul’s Catholic Center in Bloomington, IN, for two years. Next, I lived in Washington, D.C., then in Juneau, Alaska, where I have served as a U.S. Coast Guard JAG officer. The Farm holds such a special place in my heart, and I consider myself very lucky to have a small role in assuring that others will have the opportunity to feel the same way I do.