by Maxine Deeter
Twenty outstanding young men from La Canada High School near north Los Angeles descended upon the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in La Sal on April 7 for a day of work and adventure as they completed sprucing up a building that has long been a mainstay in La Sal.
La Canada is an all-boys high school. The young men who attend the school have an annual service project requirement which they fulfil each Easter.
There could not be a better way to honor Him for whom Easter is celebrated than through a Christian service project.
The young men are sophomores, juniors and seniors at the high school, which is run by Capuchin (Franciscan) Priests. Four of these clergy accompanied the students to Utah, driving and chaperoning their trip and service project. One of the priests – Father Gabriel – is from India.
The project came together in La Sal mainly through the efforts of Allen Lund, who sits on the board of directors for this group. The California guests were hosted at Lund’s ranch in Long Canyon. The age of the young men ranges from 15 to 18 years of age.
Work consisted of painting the inside and outside walls of the church, as well as the benches. Before the benches could be painted, they had to be hand-scraped to remove built-up old paint.
The young men were putting a lot of elbow grease and enthusiasm into the task, when Victor Lovato, a member of the local congregation, showed up with an electric sander, which was much appreciated.
The outside of the building was choked with weeds and brush, which had to be grubbed out by hand and was then piled into a dumpster for later removal. These healthy young men were soon adept at yielding picks and shovels in the grubbing work.
One delight of the morning was the discovery of a nest of small, newborn baby bunnies. It further illustrated the cultural difference between the young men from the LA area and local youth.
The group had traveled for over 13 hours to reach their destination in Utah. Along the way, many were introduced to lifestyles and economic situations much different than those they experience at home.
Part of the plan for the duration of the service project included the boys supplying their own food for meals. Now, those of you who know how we do things in La Sal, know that was not going to be allowed to happen.
The Lovato and Jarmillo family took the matter in hand, and the best cooks in La Sal geared up to feed the service group.
Vic Lovato and Casey Jarmillo cooked up a barbeque for one night and Erla Lovato (she of deer hunt burrito fame) put together an authentic enchilada dinner for the group.
Welcome to La Sal and how we do things here. Nothing gets done without lots of good food, and these guys got to enjoy the very best.
Along with all the service work scheduled for the group, which includes assisting at the construction site at the Catholic Church in Monticello and some time at St. Christopher’s Mission in Bluff, the guys planned to visit Arches and view a lot of awesome scenery in between Moab and Bluff.
Lund also arranged for a Native American speaker to introduce the young men to more of the local culture.
This is the second time in the last 15 years that work has been done to the Sacred Heart Church. It was a great honor for this writer to meet these young men and witness their service project and feel of the spirit they brought to their task.
With young men like these, I feel our future is in good hands. Thanks for coming our way and brightening not only the building, but our day and lives. God bless you.