During their spring vacation, eight teens from St. Clement's parish in Saratoga Springs ventured to Philadelphia, Pa., to work with the Blessed Sarnelli Community (BSC).

The BSC was established in northern Philadelphia more than 16 years ago by Rev. Kevin Murray, a Redemptorist priest. Father Murray's vision was to provide outreach to one of the poorest communities in the country.

He also wanted to empower young Catholics. Over the years, many high school and college groups have volunteered their time and talents for the BSC.

The St. Clement's teens spent the week learning about and performing outreach. They cooked meals for people who were living on the street; they helped complete a second BSC house, insulating and sheet-rocking rooms. The second house will expand the community's ability to meet local needs.

The BSC is always in need of the basics. One of the most important donations they look for is white crew socks. The people to whom they minister are in need of socks, especially during the winter.

St. Clement's parish and school donated almost 1,000 pair of socks - which, missionaries at the community told the teens, would be gone in two or three weeks. Continuous donations are important, because the need never ends.

Several of our teens have reflected on their experience in Philadelphia:

• "Philadelphia was an amazing experience. The mission really brought me closer to God. I saw the face of Jesus every time we reached out to someone in need.
"Seeing how little these people have and how much they appreciate little things like a bowl of chili or a pair of socks really made me see how lucky I am for everything I have. I saw that I can't keep everything that I have to myself and that I need to reach out and help the community as much as I can.
"I learned so much on this trip and I really grew closer to God. I hope to go on more missions like this in the future." - Gino Rosati

• "Traveling to Philadelphia and witnessing personally how the 'other half' of our world lives was a shocking but gratifying experience. The trip strengthened my faith immensely - especially seeing [missionaries] Eumir, Jessica and Krissie devoting so much time to God and partaking in His work." - Melanie Borgeest

• "Honestly, I think that going on the Sarnelli trip was the best thing for me to do as a teenager. I say this because most teens take what they have for granted and don't appreciate the little things in life. I know that after this experience I've become closer to God and it's made me realize how blessed my family is.
"I used to take stupid things for granted like not having milk in the refrigerator or being cold and not wanting to get up and get a blanket. After truly seeing how the 'other half' lives, I realized that I shouldn't take such little things for granted because there are people who would give anything to live like I do.
"Most importantly, I learned that no matter what the obstacle is, no matter how hard the task seems, nothing is impossible as long as you have faith - because sometimes that's all we really have." - Karin Hudson

Our mission with the youth at St. Clement's is to take our youth out of the catechetical classroom, where they learned about the Gospel, and teach them how to live the Gospel.

(Father Borowski is pastor and Mr. Lawrence is youth minister at St. Clement's parish in Saratoga Springs.)