I grew up in St. Paul’s. I was baptised and went went to preschool here; I’m now eighteen and a senior at Westfield High School. Needless to say, I’ve spent countless Sundays in a pew. But I met God in the real world, such as our monthly Mission Kitchen in Elizabeth, serving for a homeless organization called Family Promise and, my favorite, weeklong mission trips in the summer. I’ve worked on a myriad of different projects on the six mission trips I’ve attended: cleaning a hoarders house, playing Bingo at nursing homes, taking care of children in urban areas at Kid’s Club and clearing a nature trail of rocks twice my size. This summer will mark my seventh and final mission as a student. I hope to join the summer staff of YouthWorks (the organization that hosts our trips) for a summer in college as well as joining the St. Paul’s group as an adult leader.
I met one of my best friends, Abby, on a mission trip in Harrisburg, PA. Keeping in touch with her after two years is something I’ve never managed to accomplish with friends from any other camp or summer trip. Closer to home, I also have my youth group friends; we met in primary and junior choir, and bonded through all those Sunday nights playing dodgeball in the parish hall. We became so close that we began hanging out and joining activities together outside of church, such as horseback-riding and tae-kwon-do. My school friends have changed over the course of elementary, middle and high school, but my friends in ninth grade Confirmation class were my same playmates from our Sunday School days.
To me, St. Paul’s isn’t an hour every Sunday. It’s a community and my comfort zone, but also a door to new opportunities.
— Kelly W