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SATF Serves in Traverse City
For the past two summers, young men with the St. Andrew Task Force travelled to Detroit to serve at the Soup Kitchen run by the Capuchin Franciscans. This summer, the annual mission trip focused on service within our own backyard as participants took on projects at the Father Fred Foundation, Immaculate Conception, and the Carmelite Monastery in Traverse City June 16th through 18th. Fr. Don Geyman, Director of Vocations, led the group of six young men which included: Zachary Couture, Gaylord; Peter Hegenauer, Indian River; Nicholas Lochinski, Gaylord; Elliott Meiser, West Branch; Jacob Peacock, Traverse City and Casey Voss, Traverse City. The primary goal of the annual trip is to help nurture a sense of ministry to Gods people through volunteer service while learning about a variety of ministries in the particular area. The Father Fred Foundation, well known in northern lower Michigan, was founded by Father Edwin Frederick, a priest of the Diocese of Gaylord. Father Fred, as he was lovingly known, had been serving as a chaplain to patients and families of the former Traverse City State Hospital. After the hospital closed in 1989, Father Fred and a group of five supporters started the non-profit organization which has grown to serve those in need from Grand Traverse, Antrim, Benzie, Kalkaska and Leelanau Counties. Father Freds simple mission was to "listen, care, and share, with those in need, regardless of their faith affiliation. Father Fred passed away in January of 2000, but the Foundation and his mission have lived on in the hearts and hands of all those who visit or volunteer at the Foundation. Fr. Iakovos Olechnowicz currently serves as the spiritual director of the agency. Participants on the mission trip had the opportunity to four the facilities, lend a helping hand and learn about its important outreach activities and impact of the Father Fred Foundation in the local community. A special highlight was the opportunity to hear about Father Fred from his long-time friend Fr. Edwin Thome, who also served as spiritual director for the Foundation after Fr. Freds death, and Paul LaPorte, who is writing a biography of Father Fred. They spoke about the man and priest that Father Fred was and his great compassion and respect for people. Father Fred treated everyone with dignity. The young men were also welcomed at the Immaculate Conception parish food pantry, where they not only learned about this ministry from pantry coordinator Kathy Walter, but also helped unpack and organize the latest food delivery. They took on other projects as well at the Immaculate Conception school and parish grounds, including painting, helping with the upkeep of the grounds and cleaning up when Vacation Bible School concluded. The group also had the opportunity to visit the Carmelite Monastery and work on the buildings and grounds. They learned that the sisters there live in a cloistered community serving God and the Church by dedicating their lives to prayer and penance, particularly praying for missionaries and priests. They wear full habits and live in the monastery observing solitude, silence, austerity and simplicity, which help foster the life of prayer the women have been called to. In the evenings, participants and chaperones slept on the gym floor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in order to, at least in some small way, identify with the homeless people of that community. Mike Krueger, youth minister at St. Francis Traverse City, along with seminarians Tyler Bischoff and Michael Wigton, served as chaperones and mentors. Seminarian Joseph Ortega also joined the group briefly. Charles Taylor, Superintendent of Catholic Schools and parent Becky Kalajian of Traverse City helped to organize the trip. In addition to providing lodging, Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools also assisted with transportation and food during the mission. The mission trip is made possible by gifts to the annual Catholic Services Appeal which helps to fund the diocesan vocations efforts and activities. The St. Andrew Task Force is a ministry of the Vocations Office of the Diocese of Gaylord. Its aim is to help young men discover God's call in their life by providing opportunities for prayer, service, and learning about our Catholic tradition. For more information contact Fr. Don Geyman, Diocesan Vocations Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 989.732.5147.