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 | Keishla Espinal

Teens are Empowered during Weeklong Service Retreat

Over 300 youth and young adults are gathering at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School for the annual Diocese of St. Petersburg Good Samaritan Project, June 24-29, 2024. This is a week of service, prayer, and fun.

“I love GSP so far,” said Isabella, an 11th grader at Tampa Catholic High School. “I have always done service work with my family and when I heard about GSP I thought this was a good opportunity.

This is Isabella’s first year at GSP and she is excited to see what the program has to offer.

“I am looking forward to continue doing service,” said Isabella. “Service is important because it is good to help the community, and it grows my faith in God.”

This year, the Good Samaritans are volunteering at twelve different service sites.

A team of volunteers spent time at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Spring Hill to help with landscaping to beautify the campus.

Sister Stella Maris with the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ worked alongside the youth and young adults at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

Sister Stella Maris grew up attending St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and she said it was an honor to be able to participate and give back to the church where her vocation was nourished.

“Being back has been wonderful,” said Sister Stella Maris. “I went to high school in Spring Hill and this was my parish and I haven’t been back since I have been in the community, about 18 years. It is wonderful to feel all the feels.”

Sister Stella Maris added, “I think giving back to the community, service in general, whether it’s hand labor, Spiritual Works of Mercy, or Corporal Works of Mercy, helps us to come out of ourselves. It's almost selfish to serve others because you feel good after. So, I think serving helps us get out of ourselves and see that there are other needs out there that are maybe bigger, or more challenging than my own.”

The Good Samaritan Project (GSP) is organized by the Diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. The first program was held in 2013. This year, there were over 300 youth and young adults in attendance, alongside two religious’ sisters from the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ from Amarillo, Texas as well as priests and seminarians from across the Diocese.

The Good Samaritan Project is made possible thanks to contributions to the Catholic Ministry Appeal.