Prayer and Action participants pray the rosary together June 25 near a statue of Mary in the parking lot of St. Peter the Apostle Church before attending the parish 7:30 a.m. Mass and then reporting to their worksites. Photographs by Jessica L. Marsala.

Prayer and Action mission held in Savannah for 4th year

Originally Appeared in : 9914-7/4/19

SAVANNAH--In 2015, Prayer and Action came to Savannah as the brainchild of seminarians in the Diocese of Salinas, Kansas. 


Over the past four years the program’s high school participants and their college leaders have not only painted a number of homes, cleaned some yards and helped feed and clothe the needy but they have also encountered the people they’ve served as well as each other.   


“He always says Prayer and Action—yes, all this work is such [a] good thing, but more important than that is being able to encounter and speak with your homeowners because those are the lives you're changing,” Corbin Sedlacek, a member of this year’s core leadership team, said, paraphrasing Father Gale Hammerschmidt, the founder of the Prayer and Action program. “Yeah they may remember that people came and painted the house but what they really remember is the conversations … what was really impactful was the fact that those high school students wanted to sit down and talk to me.” 


First-time participant Emma Moore, 15, said that although she didn’t have many opportunities to encounter the staff or clients of the Savannah Care Center, where she and the other members of crew team four spent time cleaning and organizing baby clothes and toys the last week of June, she knows how appreciative they are of their group’s efforts—and not just because the center’s cook baked cookies for them.


Moore, who was adopted in 2016, remarked that her mission trip to the center reminded her of the way a different type of care center provided for her and her twin brother, before they entered foster care.


“We had a little care center that we would go to get stuff from, and we met some people there that were helpful, and there was one in particular that was really nice to me in general,” Moore, a recently confirmed parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Ray City, said. “And they would always save this one thing that I would want to the side, and every time I would come there, it would be there.”


Sedlacek, a senior at Kansas State University, suggested that he looked to Christ, who lived in community with the people he served, “doing those everyday things with everyone,” to inspire the encounters of him and his crew team three.


“So Prayer and Action takes that idea of service and what we know it as and kind of funnel(s) it back to our local communities,” he said. “So whether that be here in Savannah or in other dioceses they go to (in) different cities, being able to show that we need to meet people where they're at because that's how Jesus would do it if he were around today.”


Whether at the various worksites and even back at St. Peter the Apostle Church, where the participants recuperated physically and spiritually at the end of each day, Sedlacek emphasized how he wanted to lead by example, to witness in the way he helped prepare meals, played games with the youth or even in the way he was able to have meaningful conversations with them.


When asked to comment on the witness of Sedlacek, her team leader, Meara Kelly also highlighted the importance of conversation.


“If we have conversations on the worksite, they’re really just faith-filled,” Kelly, a high school senior and a parishioner of St. Peter the Apostle Church, said. She later noted that she also witnessed to the younger members of her team through her enthusiasm and hard work. “Even if it’s the most casual conversation, he’ll always find a way to insert it (faith) into our conversations and stuff like that.


Moore said that she’s also learned many things from her team leaders.


“I’ve learned mainly about teamwork and how, when you’re helping your community, you get praise and everything back in return for your hard work,” Moore said, struggling to find the best word to describe the fruits of service. “You get kindness back when you give kindness because you receive what you give, and it’s like wow.”

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