St. Aloysius students have dedicated their annual senior retreat to provide aid and assistance to a local Eagle Lake church affected by floodwaters.
In years past, St. Al seniors have done numerous projects around Mississippi and the nation, but this year they have chosen to help neighbors in their backyard. Forty-eight seniors will offer their helping hands to Mount Ararat Baptist Church to recover from the 2019 Backwater Flood.
Leading the charge of this retreat is Joan Thornton, an educator at St. Aloysius.
“The senior retreat this year is focused on being formed and molded by the master potter, Jeremiah. We will gather to discover and reaffirm our blessing that God is always molding us into who we are called to be,” Thornton said.
“We will be redoing bathrooms, laying floors in the pastor and sectary’s office, re-siding and painting the outside, as well as landscaping,” she said of the work the seniors will be doing.
The site was chosen by St. Aloysius and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, or UMCOR.
“We took the St. Al retreat committee to multiple sites, like homes and churches,” said Patricia Montague, UMCOR disaster case manager. “They felt Mount Ararat would be the best location for the students to display their talents and offer the best experience.”
The weekend-long retreat begins Friday with remarks from community leaders and first responders regarding the disaster, case management of those affected and the recovery process. Two speakers the students will hear from will be Emergency Management Director John Elfer and United Way Executive Director Michele Connelly.
Elfer and his team are at the forefront of every natural and manmade disaster in the Warren County area. He has made it his business to educate these students and residents of Warren County on the importance of remaining safe during disasters.
Connelly’s heart is invested in this project as she was the principal at St. Aloysius for nine years. In addition, the United Way served as the fiscal agent for UMCOR and Warren County long-term recovery funds. Together with UMCOR, it was their responsibility to case manage clients affected by the flood and fill the gaps left by state and federal aid.
“It is a true honor to collaborate with UMCOR and St. Aloysius,” Connelly said. “Serving as former principal and being raised Methodist, I feel this project is the foundation of who I am. The service these students will be providing will bring a community together in a holy place that was taken away from them for so long. Seeing the members come back to the church will be an amazing thing to witness.”
It is St. Aloysius’ mission to prepare its students to be servant leaders through academic excellence, authentic faith formation and student life opportunities. St. Aloysius’ senior retreats offer service learning activities that foster a spirit of volunteering and encourage students to remain active in the community after graduation.
The South Delta has received hours of volunteer response from surrounding states and various organizations. Recently, Crawford Street United Methodist Church welcomed a large group of volunteers from Northwood Presbyterian Church out of Texarkana, Texas, to assist with many affected homes.