The mission of Catherine McAuley (the founder of the Sisters of Mercy) – educating the whole person spiritually, intellectually and morally – is instilled in each student, thus, creating a desire to help others in need as they develop as adolescents. Our goal is to provide our young women the opportunity to learn this through a unique retreat-like service immersion trip. The spirit of Catherine McAuley deepens our sense of reaching out. The spirit calls us to connect and challenge ourselves to go beyond our comfort zone and truly help those in need. The four cornerstones of Nazareth Farm, West Virginia: COMMUNITY. SIMPLICITY. PRAYER. SERVICE align with our Mercy Core Values and Critical Concerns.
February Break 2020: Mr. “O” (Fab Mercy science teacher, Mr. Ormiston) and Jennifer Keister (mother to Jackie, Sophomore), led a wonderful group of 6 Mercy students back to Nazareth Farm for the 6th Mercy Service Learning trip! Students on the journey were: Sophomore – Jackie Keister, Juniors – Amelia Goff, Grace Kurzweil & Shannon Ruppert, Seniors – Rory Herrema & Emma Magioncaldo.
Reflection by Mr. O:
After a week of service learning at Nazareth Farm I felt as though I returned a changed person. The lifestyle at Nazareth Farm is built upon four cornerstones, or guiding principles: community, simplicity, prayer, and service. In the time you spend both on the farm and at the work site, these cornerstones truly become your way of life. They are modeled through practices such as eating meals and doing chores as a collective, turning lights off behind as you leave rooms and composting organic waste, opening up and expressing your spirituality through prayer and reflection, and possibly most important of all, giving back to those in need with labors of love. While I don’t believe each and every practice learned at Nazareth Farm will translate directly to our day to day lives, the volunteers who attended the retreat all left Nazareth Farm with a greater appreciation and awareness of how we can be more conscious of the impact we have on the world.
Q. How does teaching teenagers in the classroom differ from the experience of working with student volunteers at Nazareth Farm?
A. In some ways teaching and leading a work group are similar, but in other ways they were starkly different. First, I would say that the way I interacted with the students, acting as both a chaperone and a work group leader was similar to my role as a teacher in that I often found myself modeling things like a team-based approach, diligent work ethic, and I often had to refocus students to keep them on task. What was so different was the degree of interaction and the depth of relationship building which takes place when you eat, work, and play with the students for a week straight. I left with such a deep connection to each of these students which may not be possible in the classroom given the purpose of our gathering and our limited time constraints. So in short, by spending a week with these Mercy girls, I feel as close or closer to them than many of the students I have the chance to teach because of the unique, enriching experience we all had together.
February Break 2019: Mrs. “Sue” Decker (yes, you get to call her Sue on this trip!) and her husband, Mr. “Pete” Decker returned for the 4th year with students: Seniors; Sarah Hentschke, Rachel Rightmyer, Juniors; Lily Conlan, Rory Herrema, and Lily Steele & Sophomore; Jalisa Egues
February Break 2018: Mrs. Decker and her husband Mr. Decker returned with a brand new group of Mercy students. Juniors Lauren Connelly, Maria Crosby, Micaela Deutsch, Sabrina Dursunova, Emma Kate Mancini, and Meijing Shen all journeyed together for their first time!
The Nazareth Farm service trip was a great experience for me. I met a lot of incredible people, both kind and entertaining. Nazareth Farm has become a memorable trip that I will cherish forever. When planning I was very worried, worried about leaving my family and not being able to talk to them for a week. It was a challenge for both me and the others volunteering their, but I quickly got used to it and made a lot of friends. We spent most of our time on the work sites helping families with all kinds of tasks. The staff was understanding and were willing to help you with anything. Nazareth Farm was a peaceful and beautiful place, a place filled with love, determination, and friendship.
— Sabrina Dursunova
Nazareth Farm 2017: Students, Maddie Fasano, Lex Klimek, JoJo Parker, Natalie Ruppel, Carmen Tian, Shirley Ying
Chaperones: Mrs. Decker (English Teacher) and her husband Mr. Decker
Nazareth Farm 2016: Students, Sarah Bauch, Jane Brennan, Laura Huff, Erin Murphy, Sunny Pechulis, and Angel Yang.
Chaperones: Mrs. Decker (English Teacher) and her husband Mr. Decker.
Nazareth Farm 2014 : Students, Emma Broderick, Gabrielle LoVerde, Ruth Marron, Mary Stephenson, Maureen Zhu
Chaperones: Mrs. Randazzese and Mrs. Broderick