Last week, Br. William McMillan, O.S.B. and Br. Finnbar McEvoy, O.S.B. accompanied five Delbarton students to Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia for the School’s annual service mission. Attending the trip were Nicholas O’Brien ’23, Matt Pasko ’23, Patrick Moore ’23, Eoin Quinn ’23, and Daniel Brennan ’23.
Bethlehem Farm is a Catholic community in Alderson, WV, the heart of Appalachia, that operates a local farm with the goal of transforming lives through service while teaching sustainable practices. The farm integrates four cornerstones into its mission: prayer, service, community and simplicity. While on retreat, guests from church and school groups learn what it means to live a life of prayer and simplicity while offering home repair services to low income residents in the area. During the summers, Bethlehem Farm invites high school and college students to volunteer a week of service to the farm, and the staff provides housing, food, gathering spaces and programming.
Last week, Delbarton students began each day with a morning prayer that referenced one Catholic social teaching principle. Next, our boys assisted with chores around the farm: weeding in the garden, weed whacking, sweeping up etc. Breakfast was served, then each young person was given a work assignment for the day. After a group prayer in the parking lot, each group set off for tasks that included reinforcing a ceiling and building a porch with on-the-job training when necessary. At each site, the group was guided by a full-time employee of Bethlehem Farm. At the end of each work day, everyone returned to the farm for dinner, followed by a review of the day, evening prayer, and time to relax before heading to bed.
Each Delbarton student reported that he enjoyed the hard work, meeting another student group from Indiana, and the atmosphere of faith inspiring a radical kind of life. Cell phones are powered off during each Bethlehem Farm experience, which presents a radical departure from everyday life for guests. Less screentime breeds more interaction with other paticpants, and more contemplative thinking too.
Delbarton’s Bethlehem Farm mission is an annual community service tradition and we welcome students to join us. Boys interested in attending a future Bethlehem Farm mission are encouraged to contact Director of Mission & Ministry Mr. Matt White. Learn more about life at Bethlehem Farm and support the farm’s mission here.