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Summer mission in its 10th year

Salina — Ten years ago, Father Gale Hammerschmidt, then a seminarian, said he had no idea what to expect from Prayer and Action, a summer mission project he helped launch.

“I was hoping we could do one week a summer,” he said.

The popular program has mushroomed. Now spanning seven weeks each summer, it draws almost 500 high school and college-aged youth and adult sponsors. In a week’s time, they focus on their faith and on helping the less fortunate.

“I stopped counting about three or four years ago, but I’m sure the number of projects is in the hundreds and the number of participants is in the thousands,” Father Hammerschmidt said. “It’s kind of humbling.”

Seminarian Brian McCaffrey is heading up this year’s mission under the direction of Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, diocesan director of youth ministry.

McCaffrey said he continues to be overwhelmed by the response that Prayer and Action generates.

He joined the project in 2008 as a high school student and was on staff last summer. He will be enrolled at Conception Seminary College this fall.

This year’s Prayer and Action schedule included the four weeks of June in Stockton, followed by three weeks in July in Ellsworth.

“In Stockton, we got a lot of work done,” he said. “The community was so great and welcoming. Everybody in town was talking to us; people were buying our stuff. It was really cool to see how the whole community gets captivated by what these kids are doing.”

Ellsworth has been just as supportive, he added.

“People here have been very generous with food, ladders. A lot of what we do would not be possible without the support and prayers of the parishioners,” he said.

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