Thanks to the generosity of the Sisters of Mercy, and the planning of Sister Joanne LaFreniere, spiritual life coordinator at Mater Christi School in Burlington, VT, 54 eighth grade students spent the day, October 19, on Mercy Farm in Benson, VT.
The day began early for the MCS students as they boarded a bus at 7:30 a.m. for the 1 1/2 hour trip to Mercy Farm. After time for an Ice Breaker, they were welcomed by Sisters Mary Quinn, Holly Cloutier and Betty Secord, the Mercy Farm staff. The students then joined Sister Dale Jarvis, RSM, in the chapel for the morning Presentation.
During her talk, Sr. Dale mentioned the fact that Pope Francis had added “Care of the Earth” as the newest Work of Mercy. She encouraged the students to be attentive to this. She also emphasized the importance of remaining open to God’s call in their lives. Using a question and answer format as well as stories, Sr. Dale kept the students thoroughly tuned-in to her message.
After a mid-morning break, Mass was celebrated by Fr. Anthony Pittappillil, pastor of a nearby parish. Father continued the message of care of the earth and gave some statistics on the amount of food that is wasted daily in the United States. He urged the students to think of ways in which they can avoid wasting food.
After lunch, picnic-style on the lawn, the students who had been divided into smaller groups, were conducted by the Sisters and their teachers: Julia Melloni, Sara Tabasko, Tim Loescher and Allan Whayland on a tour of the farm where they got an overview of the many activities that are part of life at Mercy Farm. The MCS 8th graders visited the GARDENS, the BARN (the sheep, hens, guineas and barn cat were hits), the BEE HIVES (which even in October had very active bees buzzing around their hives) and then journeyed on the TRAIL leading them to the POND and SPRINGS.
At the end of a long day, the students boarded the big yellow school bus, returning to Mater Christi School in Burlington, more aware of God’s gifts of creation and the need to care for them. Perhaps, just as important to these young people were the opportunities to meet Sr. Dale and to experience the hospitality of the Sisters at the Farm.
Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life