Delbarton School Service-Retreat at Bethlehem Farm

Delbarton School Service-Retreat at Bethlehem Farm
2022 Bethlehem Farm Working Retreat

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 ’23Matt Pasko ’23Patrick Moore ’23Eoin 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

Summer of Service

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After a year spent mostly stuck inside, Cindy Cintron, a junior at The Catholic University of America in Washington, spent the summer working with her hands to weed, harvest and build at Bethlehem Farm in Alderson, W. Va., a Catholic community centered around service and sustainability. For more than eight weeks, Cintron served as the point person for the farm’s orchards. She helped take care of the community’s 50 chickens. And, with the help of a revolving team of volunteers, she assisted local homeowners with much-needed building repairs and construction projects.

“A lot of the community members couldn’t afford to pay normal construction companies to help them repair their homes, so they coordinated with us and we agreed to help them with their projects,” Cintron said. “We did the labor free of charge and then worked out a payment plan to cover supplies so that in the end, the only cost for the homeowners are those resources.”

Cintron’s experience working on the farm was supported by the Office of Campus Ministry’s Summer of Service stipend program. As part of the program, Catholic U. students receive $2,500 grants to enable them to participate in long-term service projects (eight weeks or longer) of their choosing.

continue reading this article at https://www.catholicherald.com/News/Catholic_Living/Summer_of_service/

Bahr is assistant director of media relations and communications at Catholic U. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

Maintenance Garage: Steel Building Construction, Part III

Maintenance Garage:
Steel Building Construction, Part III

by Eric Fitts, Director

More cinder block cores poured, window jambs modified and bolted in, person doors and windows installed, insulation and some metal siding installed, roof insulation and part of roof metal installed.

Next up is completing the roof, installing 16-ft shed roof, installing rafters and roof for the 24-ft trailer shed, installing siding above the shed roofs, and installing trim work, gutters, and downspouts.

“Rebuild My Church” Capital Campaign

Maintenance Garage: Steel Building Construction Begins

Maintenance Garage:
Steel Building Construction Begins!

by Eric Fitts, Director

We thought we had an erection crew all lined up, until they failed to commit at the last minute. Thanks to some extra hussle by Patrick, we lined up a new crew and they already have one week of work under their belts.

All materials was accounted for, steel beams were distributed around the building site, forklift and bucket were delivered, the far wood shed and picnic shelter area were framed out in steel, and the main steel rigid frame rafters were bolted in place. Now we can see the basic shape of the building and boy are we excited about all of the space we’ll have to serve our home repair program into the future!

Thanks to Caretaker Patrick McGinnis for lining up the bids, All Construction for connecting us with the steel erection crew, and Richard, Steve, and Ethan and the crew at Blankenship Consulting for doing good work for a good cause. Blankenship Consulting out of nearby Summersville, WV, is led by Brian Blankenship. Patrick and other Caretakers have been assisting on-site as needed.

Next steps are diagonal bracing, purlins, girts, and rafters for the near-side 24-ft trailer shed.

“Rebuild My Church” Capital Campaign

Maintenance Garage: Cinder Block Complete

Maintenance Garage:
Cinder Block Complete

by Eric Fitts, Director

You’ll recall that we just completed the slab pour. Next came the cinder block knee wall.

Thanks to Caretaker Patrick McGinnis for lining up the bids, All Construction for connecting us with the masonry crew, and Steve Cash and the crew at Cash Masonry for doing good work for a good cause. Cash Masonry out of nearby Covington, VA, is led by Steve Cash, who is backed by a solid crew, including his son Andrew, Chad, Noah, Tristan, and Jerome.

They laid 3 courses of 8″ cinder block around the perimeter of the garage site, so that none of the steel building will sit on the ground. They left rough openings for the garage doors and person doors. The Caretakers then followed up, by filling every cinder block core adjacent to a doorway with concrete and rebar, as well as filling a core every four feet with concrete. This will enable the knee-wall to last a long time.

Next step is erecting the 112’x54′ steel i-beam building. It looks like we’ll be working with a crew of three from Beckley, WV, with 1-2 Caretakers or Summer Servants as laborers on the project each day to help them along and keep costs down–we’ll keep you posted with progress shots!

“Rebuild My Church” Capital Campaign

Maintenance Garage: Slab poured!!

Maintenance Garage:
Slab poured!!

by Eric Fitts, Director

An update is overdue!

After months of planning, one contractor pulling out at the end of last year, several bids reviewed, and a winter weather delay, we now have a slab poured for the Maintenance Garage!

Thanks to Caretaker Patrick McGinnis for lining up the bids, All Construction for connecting us with the concrete crew, and Harry Bowles and the crew at Top Dog Concrete for doing excellent work for a good cause. Top Dog Concrete, out of Fayetteville, WV, is led by Harry Bowles, who is backed by a great crew, including his son Bailey, Justin, Louie, Shawn, Clyde, Eric, Stevie, and Ronnie.

After grading and forming the site last week and pouring the picnic shelter area Friday, today they poured 6 truckloads of concrete, finished it, sloped it into our trench drains in each garage bay, and cut a slope at the entrance of each bay to shed any rain that gets in. They also helped us use the excess to pour the last few parking bumpers for the expanded parking lot. They covered the slab in concrete blankets for the night and will make the relief cuts tomorrow.

There should be crew out here later this week to lay the 3 courses of block to finish the foundation, after which point we’ll be ready for Arnold Grey and the steel building erection team.

“Rebuild My Church” Capital Campaign

March 1-7: Eastern Mennonite, St. Peter’s University, and Loyola Chicago copy

March 1-7: Eastern Mennonite, St. Peter’s University, and Loyola Chicago

March 1-7: College Week

Groups from Eastern Mennonite, St. Peter’s University, and Loyola Chicago

The first of 3 College Group Weeks in a row! Groups from Eastern Mennonite, St. Peter’s University, and Loyola Chicago, joined us to paint a house and move a ton of wood with Leota, replace an underpinning with Paul, seal a roof with Paige and Courtney, and start a foundation repair with Bonnie. Thanks to summer servants Katherine Warth and Patrick McGinnis for joining us for laughs, hard work, and great meals. And that’s on PERIOD!

March 8-14: College Week: Avila University, Benedictine College, University of Notre Dame

March 8-14: College Week: Avila University, Benedictine College, University of Notre Dame

March 8-14: College Week: Avila University, Benedictine College, University of Notre Dame

March 8-14: college week. Groups from Avila University, Benedictine College, and University of Notre Dame joined us last week on their spring break. A crew worked with Tori and Leota to finish up painting her house and a few other jobs. We served on home crew with Steve and Colleen to provide delicious meals. Eric brought a farm crew to Farmer Rhonda’s to assist with construction of her high tunnel and playing with baby animals. Joseph and a crew worked with Bonnie to continue replacing a foundation. And Raine and Gemma worked with Ann to continue repairing porches and her roof. Former Summer Servant Emma Qualy Pearson brought her knowledge and joy to the week, and seasonal servant Marty squeezed back in time to lend a hand in the kitchen.


It was a privilege to welcome BC home for the first time and have them join some of our long-time partners. Thanks for the hard work and inspiring prayers!

January 5-11: St. Anselm, College of Mount Saint Vincent, and St. Paul at UW-Madison

January 5-11: St. Anselm, College of Mount Saint Vincent, and St. Paul at UW-Madison

January 5-11: College Week

Groups from College of Mount Saint Vincent, St. Anselm and St. Paul’s University Catholic Center joined us for a great start to 2020.

Groups were blessed with a half-day on Tuesday to take time hiking, sledding, and relaxing in the snow. We spent the rest of the week bundled up as we worked with Mike Jenkins on his roof and Charlotte Summers to fix her porch. We were fortunate to help farm friends Rhonda Sherman Dortch on her high tunnel construction and Anne brown to prepare for growing season on her farm. A farmcrew helped Eric Fittsdawg continue siding on the San Damiano Center for Sustainability.

We deep cleaned the Farmhouse, split wood for the stove, and harvested many greens from our high tunnel and greenhouse. Former summer servant Cece Pateman joined us for the week, and Marty Nocchi came back for the week to make history as the first “summer” servant to serve in all seasons. We’re still working on names; some are calling him well-seasoned!

Our volunteer group enjoying a prayer experience at the top of Bill Mann’s Hill, cheering on Wisconsin despite coming from other schools

Fun sledding down the hill!