Sept. 26, 2018
Saint Vincent College students, monks and staff took part in an annual mission trip to the city of Ketchikan, Alaska, and the surrounding area. The students spent most of their time interacting with the local parish and school, Holy Name Catholic Church, completing a variety of service projects, such as turning an overgrown area near the parish into a beautiful garden, encircled by a retaining wall made from locally-quarried rocks. In support of their hard work, parishioners shared their hospitality with the students by inviting them into their home for dinner and preparing meals at the church hall. The students spent time with the local parishioners by celebrating Mass in the sanctuary and praying Vespers together every evening alongside them.
Of course, the trip wasn’t all work – students had plenty of time to explore Ketchikan and absorb all that Alaska had to offer. The group spent their free time having bonfires on nearby Bugge Beach, encountered black bears at Herring Cove, hiked several trails, including the 3,000-foot Deer Mountain Trail and through Tongass National Forest. The students also were able to cool off during the unusually hot Alaskan summer by swimming in several Alaskan lakes, going whale watching on a parishioner's boat, taking a guided kayak excursion on the Pacific Ocean and fishing for salmon in Alaskan rivers.
In addition, students took time to learn about the history of the town and its original inhabitants, the Tlingit and Haida Native American nations. “One of the most fascinating experiences was visiting Totem Bight historic park,” junior Melissa Koshute said. “There, performers showed us several dances of their tribe and even invited us to join in on some of the dancing!”
She went on to say that the trip provided a tremendous opportunity for her. “I became immersed in a totally new community thousands of miles from home. It allowed me to experience the beauty of God's creation like never before, making some awe-inspiring memories that will last a lifetime.”
Students who attended the trip were: Lucy Bujdos, a senior English major from Indiana; Christian Dimeo, a senior biology major from Ellwood City; Maria Franey, a senior biochemistry major from Export; Carly Grove, a junior psychology major from Loretto; Grace Harris, a junior early childhood education major from Canonsburg; Joe Heldrich, a sophomore business management major from Red Lion; Alex Kidwell, a junior chemistry major from Cumberland, Maryland; Melissa Koshute, a junior accounting major from Beaver; Devon Long, a sophomore physics major from Virginia Beach, Virginia; Camden Sarver, a sophomore finance major from Gibsonia; Baylin Snyder, a sophomore psychology major from Fenelton; and Maura Williams, a junior mathematics major from New Wilmington. Among them were their four chaperones: Br. George DeFazio, O.S.B., assistant to the director of Campus Ministry; Seth Harbaugh, assistant director of Archabbey Publications; Fr. Canice McMullen, O.S.B., assistant director of vocations for Saint Vincent Archabbey; and Jym Walters, assistant director of Campus Life and Student Recreation.
Photo: (front, left to right, seated on the bottom step) Carly Grove, Baylin Snyder; left to right, middle row) Br. George DeFazio, O.S.B., Brooks Ward (friend of Holy Name’s youth minister, attends Virginia Tech), Christian Dimeo, Joseph Heldrich, Lucy Bujdos, Jym Walters, Maria Franey, Melissa Koshute and Grace Harris (top step), Fr. Canice McMullen, O.S.B., Alexander Kidwell, Devon Long, Seth Harbaugh, Vincent Marcantonio (Holy Name’s Youth Minister), Camden Sarver; Maura Williams (back center, standing in totem pole).
Written by Jason Walko, junior marketing major from Smithton.
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