Newman Community Goes to Nazareth Farm

This winter break, 12 members of the Colgate Newman Community volunteered at Nazareth Farm in rural West Virginia. Led by Catholic Chaplain Mark Shiner, the group traveled to Doddridge County, WV, to engage in a week-long experience of faith and service.”It was an excellent experience for everyone that chose to go,” sophomore Luke Champlin said. “The trip gave us an opportunity to live out the ideals of the Gospel in an environment that helped to foster genuine bonds with the people we were working with and for.” Nazareth Farm, a Catholic community of volunteers, is based upon the Gospels’ and the Catholic Church’s social teachings and values prayer, community, simplicity and service. In accordance with the cornerstone of simplicity, volunteers were allowed to take only three showers per week and had to leave their cell phones, iPods and other modern comforts behind. According to Champlin, the policy was a welcome change. “Along with a firm foundation of service, the Farm gave us a much needed break from the stress of everyday life,” he said. “Even simple things, like a vacation from e-mail, TV and the cell phone, helped to calm and focus every member of the community.”The volunteers spent their days working hard to eliminate sub-standard housing in Doddridge County. “We chopped down trees and put additions on peoples’ trailers,” Shiner said. “We re-did the ceiling on someone’s house.”Participants benefited greatly from the experience. “It was great to get to know other Catholics in the Colgate Community and have the experience of sharing our faith with others while making a positive influence in the community,” sophomore Anna Keegan said.Along with the service component, the group shared meals and daily prayer. Although officially a Catholic trip, members of any faith were welcome; in the past, members of Colgate’s Protestant community have attended Nazareth Farm. “The whole vibe is laid back and welcoming,” Shiner said. Nazareth Farm has been a continuing success for the Colgate Newman community, which leads a trip there every year during winter break.”I look forward to it every year,” Shiner said. “In an era where the Catholic Church is primarily experienced as a political player or place of conflict, it is an opportunity for students to see what actually matters. Students discover that building community is an essential part of one’s faith.”