Lending a helping hand

St. Elias parishioners help rebuild, refurbish homes in Kentucky

By Lori Jordan
St. Elias, Munhall,, Pa.

Luke Jordan, 17, and Ryan Monahan, 22, parishioners of St. Elias in Munhall, Pa., spent 10 days from July 1 to 11 in Beattyville, Ky. with the Appalachian Work Camp.
They joined a group of 150 volunteers from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Munhall and St. Joan of Arc Parish in South Park, Pa. to build and refurbish homes of low-income, elderly or needy people in the Appalachia Region.
Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in the United States. The living conditions for the unfortunate in this region are deplorable.
Father Dan Sweeny, from St. Thomas the Apostle, has involved himself and the parishes he has ministered to a relief effort for the people of Owsley County.
Over the last 39 years he has organized a week-long “building blitz.” He and his volunteers travel to Kentucky and spend a week building homes, decks, additions and repairing current structures.
“We developed a new sense of humility upon arriving in Kentucky,” said Ryan.
“We witnessed firsthand the stark differences between us and the townsfolk there, not only physical possessions, but their perspective on priorities in life. Seeing those families with so little, but in such high spirits is a testament to how strong they are, and that all they need is each other to be happy. That is something not often seen these days.”
Luke said, “The people there live in such awful conditions. It’s amazing what we can do for them when we all work together. Even though they don’t have much, they always had a smile on their face. It is a great experience! Every day I learned a new skill and met some terrific people. I encourage more people to become involved with the Appalachia Work Camp,” said Luke.
Due to the pandemic, the cost of building materials, wood, food and gasoline drastically increased. Many of the fundraisers had to be canceled because of the pandemic.
In June, a special collection was taken at St. Elias to help defray some of these costs. Parishioners and friends of St. Elias gave so generously to the cause.
Luke and Ryan look forward to heading back to Kentucky in 2022. Please keep them and all the volunteers in your prayers as they do God’s work.