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Oklahoma City Church youth travel to serve the poor in San Antonio, Omaha visitors delight in city visit

by Patrick B. McGuigan
Senior Editor

The youth group from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Oklahoma City have returned from a visit to assist as volunteers at poverty-fighting programs in San Antonio, Texas. Their colleagues in the cause, a youth group from Omaha, stopped for rest and recreation during their long drive home to the Cornhusker State.

The two youth groups attended an immersion work camp in San Antonio sponsored by “Young Neighbors in Action”.

That program drew 150 young people from Massachusetts, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. While in the historic city, named for St. Anthony, the volunteers stayed at St. Mary’s University and Holy Rosary Catholic Church, which provided lodging and meeting space for the work camp.

Youth from varied churches worked at a wide range of sites in San Antonio. Our Lady’s group spent a week working at the Unicorn Center, which is a daycare and work facility for developmentally disabled individuals.
According to organizers of the program, the teen-agers and chaperones learned about disabilities and spent getting to know the “customers” at the Unicorn Center. Despite a lot of practical hard work assisting there and elsewhere, there was some time for recreation. Activities included exercise, games, sports, arts and crafts projects, and an Independence Day party.

Also in the Texas town were members of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Omaha. They had worked at three different sites, including a children’s respite care facility, painting over graffiti at one school, and fixing up a classroom at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, where they also volunteered in a senior nutrition center.

Cheryl Poulin led the Omaha contingent, who made a stop in Oklahoma City for some hard-earned rest. They stayed overnight at former convent on the Our Lady’s campus, the Mercy Center.

The group delighted in an evening visit to the Santa Fe Family Life Center as guests of Oklahoma Council 1038 of the Knights of Columbus. They had a long swim and enjoyed use of the facilities for showers and general clean-up.
Poulin and her charges marveled at the hospitality they received throughout Oklahoma City. Sunday they attended Mass as a group at the Cathedral, visited the National Memorial and headed home.

The anti-poverty efforts did not end with Omaha and Oklahoma City groups. A large and energetic group of youth from Northern Iowa, in the company of their counsellors (a group of University of Northern Iowa basketball fans) stopped at the Cathedral for breakfast with the Knights on July 17. They were on their way to Arizona, where they were volunteering to spruce up buildings on an Indian reservation.

One of the young Iowa boys declared the local meal, “the best food I’ve had in years.”

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