A summer night at the shore, with adoration

A summer night at the shore, with adoration
Assisted by seminarian Anthony Infanti and Deacon Don Rogozenski, Father Michael Goyette, parochial vicar at Northfield’s Saint Gianna Beretta Molla Parish, leads the “Burning Bush” adoration service for Summer in the City youth participants on Aug. 18 in the parish hall. Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

Assisted by seminarian Anthony Infanti and Deacon Don Rogozenski, Father Michael Goyette, parochial vicar at Northfield’s Saint Gianna Beretta Molla Parish, leads the “Burning Bush” adoration service for Summer in the City youth participants on Aug. 18 in the parish hall.
Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

Father James King, chaplain of Stockton University’s Catholic Campus Ministry, speaks to Summer in the City youth outside the Galloway Township ministry center on Aug. 17. Photo by James A. McBride

Father James King, chaplain of Stockton University’s Catholic Campus Ministry, speaks to Summer in the City youth outside the Galloway Township ministry center on Aug. 17.
Photo by James A. McBride

NORTHFIELD — On a hot summer’s evening with 50 youth gathered, one might expect the hot dogs, hamburgers and Cheetos. But eucharistic adoration and reconciliation?

These traditional Catholic practices (along with said food and Cheetos) were just par for the Summer in the City course last week in the parish hall of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla.

For seven days, youth from the Diocese of Camden focused on the four pillars of service, social justice, community and spirituality in the Catholic tradition.

With Absecon’s Holy Spirit High School serving as their home base, youth were sent out every day to “be the hands and feet of Jesus” to those in need, said Greg Coogan, director of Youth Ministry for the diocese.

Be it working alongside those who care for sacred cemeteries; serving the homeless at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission; or helping farmers pick watermelons, peppers and blackberries on their farms, the young church lived out the call to perform works of mercy.

Referring to the week as a “transformative” one for youth, Coogan said a highlight was their “interactions with the elderly living with dementia, sharing stories, leading exercises, and holding hands with them.”

“I was moved by the youths’ energy and compassion in heeding Pope Francis’ message to embrace those on the margins,” he said.

Sixty-eight young people participated this summer in the weekly service experiences, held in Vineland, Camden and, last week, down the shore.

Maddy Underwood, 17, from West Deptford, just finished her third year of participation with Summer in the City.

“I’ve come back every year, and there’s a reason for that,” she said.

“I have clean water, a nutritious meal, a warm bed. You take it for granted, but then get a new perspective; this powerful experience makes you step back,” she said. “You take away a week of your summer break, to give back.”

For 16-year-old Megan McMonigle, from Mullica Hill, the highlight of her week was helping out at Sister Jean Webster’s Soup Kitchen in Atlantic City, and “seeing a side of the city you don’t normally see, away from the boardwalk, ocean and lights.”

“It was an eye-opening experience. You see the hungry in need, with families to support,” she said.

At the end of the week, the youth left Summer in the City, and the waning days of the season, but not without a new, young Catholic community formed. “We’re all one family now,” Megan said.

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