Since its inception in 2006, the Salina Diocese’s Prayer and Action program has grown both within the diocese itself and to ten other dioceses around the country. This summer, four Salina Diocese-based college students took advantage of the opportunity to serve in the Prayer and Action programs of some of those other dioceses and hoped to leave a lasting impression on the youth they encounter.
Brothers Gavin and Corbin Sedlacek joined seminarian Adam Zarybnicky in serving people from the Diocese of Savanna, Ga., for two weeks in mid-June. Growing up attending Seven Dolors Parish in Manhattan, the Sedlacek brothers were exposed to the Prayer and Action program first through their older sister who had participated. “We went to Catholic Schools from kindergarten through eighth grade, but we really didn’t go out and do anything hands-on to help the poor,” said Gavin. “Being able to live the Christian faith out in that way was very appealing to me.” Corbin agreed. “Prayer and Action is so enriching and it’s an experience you won’t get anywhere else,” he said.
Now, with a combined 17 weeks of Prayer and Action experience over the course of almost a decade, Gavin and Corbin hoped their work in Savannah helped deepen the faith lives of the almost 70 students who participated in the city. “It’s Prayer and Action,” Gavin emphasized. “I hope the kids see the value of that.” “Ideally, each person will have had an experience where they had a one-on-one encounter with Christ. At the very least, we hope it showed them what it’s like to have a servant heart and recognize the needs in their own community and how they can help meet those needs.”
For Adam Zarybnicky of Hanover, 2019 marks the fifth time he’s participated in Prayer and Action. Like the Sedlacek brothers, he was introduced to the program through his sister who participated through St. John the Baptist Parish. “She had a significant experience,” he said. “I’d seen a shift in her faith life. She had a deeper joy. She recruited me to participate and it sparked my own faith life, prayer and desire to serve people in any way I could.” Having served with the youth of Savannah for two weeks, Adam said, “I hope they realize [now] that sacrifice and serving others and living the Christian life is more important than having what you want when you want it. I hope it leads them to have a deeper faith life.”
For Seth Hilger, a parishioner at St. Mary, Queen of Angels, Parish in Russell and a junior at Wichita State University, this summer will be his fourth year of Prayer and Action. After participating for three summers in the Salina Diocese, he was given the opportunity to serve on the program’s leadership team for the Dodge City Diocese. The team’s work this summer will span four weeks between June and July. Through Hilger’s previous experience, he said he hopes the students he works with this year will find Christ like he did when he was participating. “We encounter Christ in every aspect of the week which is really cool,” he said. “I hope they find a deeper love for their faith and that they find Christ in the least fortunate of His people. I also hope they find Christ in each other and through the suffering of our week as well as through adoration and confession.”
Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, CSJ, believes the aspect of serving locally is one of the most appealing aspects of the Prayer and Action experience, and one that perhaps appeals to those dioceses into which the program has expanded. “We have plenty of opportunities to go outside our diocese to get mission experience, but there are opportunities in our own backyard,” she said. “It’s also good for the communities to see these kids having fun. Prayer and Action really connects the young and the old.”