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Summer Servant Stories
Who We Are Meant To Be
Debuting This Fall
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Can you believe how fast the year has gone by? Come join us on December 14th or 21st (exact date TBA) for our annual Chicago Benefit at St. Ignatius College Preparatory!







Send in your registration informationand reserve your spots for 2014! See deadlines below. 


High School: September 30, 2013

College: August 15, 2013

Questions? Contact Laura


Check out our videos of the roof installation and basement framing!

CARETAKER RESIDENCE PROGRESS REPORT: Sustainable Features Hanging in the Balance

by Eric


Progress on the Caretaker Residence has been coming along nicely. After hiring professionals to lay the foundation, pour the slab, and raise the SIPs frame, we have taken the lead on interior framing, laying block for the window wells, installing the radiant floor, and preparing the greenhouse foundation for infilling with topsoil. Caretakers, Summer Servants and Participants have all had a hand in providing volunteer labor for the project, which is significantly reducing costs, even as it is adding to an already busy schedule of summer home repair. It is only through the dedication of the Caretaker Community, steadfast work from the Summer Servants, and the leadership of our Construction Manager, Mark Solak, that the project has been moving ahead at a steady clip. It is an exciting point in the process!


We have come a long way, but we still have $221,000 to go to fund the Caretaker Residence project. Whether you contributed to the initial campaign last summer or have not yet given toward this essential project, we invite you to contribute at this critical time.


We need your help - please consider clicking here to send a gift online!


We are still in the process of deciding how far we can go with some of our sustainable features:

  • We would like to invest in solar heat for the radiant floor heating system and let the sun pay our heating bill
  • We are hoping to include SolaTube passive solar lighting
  • We are determining how much rainwater containment we can afford for irrigation of the gardens, orchard, and high tunnel greenhouse
  • If funding is available, we will also add solar panels to bring the Farm up to 100% solar electricity!

The cool thing about these features is that they will make Bethlehem Farm more resilient and result in lower maintenance and operating costs for the building, if we can afford them.


Click here if you would like to sponsor one of these sustainable design features!


We are working diligently to finish the Caretaker Residence sometime this fall. When it is complete, we will have room for some fun folks who have been patiently awaiting more space:

  • Joe and Julie Tracy-Prieboy (see story below)
  • Our 9th Caretaker, Jenna Cucco
  • And Baby Fitts #2 (due in September!)

Click here to join us in offering up what you can for this critical project!

by Laura

When Bethlehem Farm became a reality, the bishop asked, "Who will be there?". Eric responded, "Someone will come." One of those someones was Julie Tracy, a friend of Eric and Colleen from Nazareth Farm. Julie and Russ held down the fort and hosted the first Bethlehem Farm group weeks in 2005. After her departure, Julie stayed closely involved as a board member and most recently, chair of the board.


Joe Prieboy came to the Farm in 2007. He first worked as an Americorps VISTA member at SARA (Southeastern Appalachian Rural Alliance), and then became the Farm's project coordinator in 2009. Joe and Julie first met each other through their mutual friendship with Colleen, and began dating after a shared vacation on Prince Edward Island. In May of 2012, they became Joe and Julie Tracy Prieboy. They spent their first year of marriage in New Hampshire, while Julie finished her Master of Social Work and Master of Science in Outdoor Education degrees, and Joe worked as a caretaker of a conference center and a personal aide for young adults with developmental disabilities. AND NOW, THEY ARE BACK! We are thrilled to welcome home Joe, Julie, and their dog, Gus. Joe returns to the Farm as a co-project coordinator with Laura, and co-facility and vehicle maintenance with Katherine and Colleen. Julie is a clinician at the Greenbrier Academy for Girls, located just down the hill from the Farm. They currently reside in Hinton. We look forward to the day we can welcome them home into the caretaker residence!

by Matt

Heading into his junior year at Xavier University, Taylor Fulkerson signed on for thirteen weeks with us as a Summer Servant. Taylor had never been to the Farm before he showed up to live and work here for over three months, but he trusted the recommendation of two close college friends who have been Summer Servants in the past. Reflecting on his first six weeks at the Farm, Taylor said bluntly, "That seemingly pretentious part of the Farm's Mission Statement about 'transforming lives''s the real deal." 


Everyone who comes to the Farm (caretakers, Summer Servants, volunteers, guests, community friends) are all called here for a reason and all of our reasons are different. I posed the question, "Why are you here?" to all of our Summer Servants.  Most are returning volunteers who found family and home at the Farm and felt a call to return. Others, like Taylor and recent Villanova graduate Lauren O'Brien, found themselves searching for something this summer, and with a little direction from mutual friends of the Farm ended up in Summers County, West Virginia. 


To read more about the journeys of our Summer Servants, click here.


Photo by Danielle DuBois

by Moira


Michael Iafrate, Ph.D. candidate in theology at the University of Toronto, joined us one June evening for a discussion on the agrarian nature of the scriptures. Both the old and new testaments were written by and for agricultural communities. Today, we miss a lot of the original meanings of these stories because we don't understand the context in which they were written.  


One passage we delved into was the creation story in Genesis, which was written during the period of the Babylonian exile. The Hebrew creation stories depict humans as the pinnacle of God's creative work, made in the divine image. Humans are called to be stewards of the rest of creation, while simultaneously being completely dependent upon it for our sustenance. This text, and the concept of the divine as loving creator, is juxtaposed with the Babylonian creation myth, in which humanity emerges from the dead bodies of gods murdered by their own children. The triumphant gods control the earth, and human beings are created to serve them. This myth of redemptive violence, of healing and wholeness emerging from violence and death, is still alive and well in our culture today - in the form of superheroes, the glorification of war and violence, and the "might makes right" assumption that celebrates cut-throat competition and exploitation.


Our faith exposes the myth of redemptive violence for what it is: a myth. Much of the Hebrew canon is a prophetic critique of the elites' accumulation of wealth at the expense of the common people. Today, this critique can be applied to multinational corporations' consolidation of resources. Jesus' nonviolent resistance to the worldly powers of his time gives us an example of equality, community, generosity, and detachment from material things: a vision of the Kingdom of God.  


This article is made possible by a grant from the Our Sunday Visitor Institute. 


Did you catch the reference in the Caretaker Residence article above? If you didn't, here's the news: Eric and Colleen are expecting their second child this September! Miriam is very excited to be an older sister, and we are all looking forward to welcoming a new member into our community. Congratulations to the Fitts family!



Our Sunday Visitor Institute

Bernard McDonough Foundation

1st and 10 Foundation

Scott and JoAnn Haner

Bob and Pauline Hanich

Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston

Helen Brach Foundation

Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL

Plum Creek Foundation

Xaverian Brothers High School (Boston, MA)

Our Lady of Grace Church (Noblesville, IN)

Robert Bensen Meyer, Jr. Foundation

Tom and Diane Murray

Tim Duffy

Andra and Charles Benson

St. Catherine of Siena Church (Ronceverte, WV)

Joe and Emily Donegan

Laura Jones and Sam Leizear

Tom and Diane Slain

Daniel Newell

Ann and Dan Ruggaber

John and Nicole Weber




Andrew and Carrie Archual * Sue Augustus * Jay Carney * Anonymous * Patrick and Jeanne Dignan * Elizabeth Drapa * Katie Feise * Louis Ferrari * Colleen and Eric Fitts * Bob Gill * John Hannagan * 

Lauren LaCoy * Christine and John Marasi * Kera and Scott McNelis * Katie Noonan * 

Laura and John O'Donnell * Frederick and Erin Pratt * Julie and Joe Tracy Prieboy *

Andi and Andy Rebollar * Robert and Patricia Rebollar * Sarah and Tom Rooney * Margaret Shaia * 

Marc Slain * Howard Spurlock * Jake and Alicen Teitgen * Mary Williams


Click here to become a monthly donor!

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Bethlehem Farm | P.O. Box 415 | Talcott | WV | 24981