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Putting faith into action





HOXIE -- Anna Hegarty described the week as "basically the best" of her life. She spent time cleaning yards and painting houses, some of it in 105-degree weather early in the week.

"I think it's awesome how the town -- even if we're not doing their house -- they tell us how they appreciate what we're doing," said the soon-to-be-sophomore from Manhattan.

She was one of hundreds of Catholic youth from the Diocese of Salina who participated in Prayer and Action this summer. Catholic Youth Organizations from various Catholic churches within the diocese sent high-school students on the weeklong mission trip. The first four weeks saw youth sprucing up Salina neighborhoods, while the last three weeks have been spent in Hoxie.

And besides the work, youth are able to meet new people from across the diocese and reconnect with God.

"I wanted an opportunity to get away from the world and grow in my faith," said Makayla Reed, a senior from Stockton who participated in her second Prayer and Action trip this summer.

Reed said she made great friends last summer and wanted to reconnect with them during this year's Prayer and Action.

While the work was similar to a year ago, Reed said she enjoys the evening fellowship offered in the program.

"We have a talk from one of the staff members (at night), and we share instances in which we've seen God throughout the day," Reed said.

Heidi Jirak is one of those staff members, employed by the diocese to help facilitate the volunteer work throughout the summer. The Oakley native and Benedictine College sophomore now has spent five summers doing work for Prayer and Action.

"I love the program a lot," Jirak said. "I want to serve my diocese in any way that I can, and this is one of the best ways to do it."

Jirak aspires to enter youth ministry someday, so she credits her work with area CYO members as good experience for her future.

"The relationships you build -- with the kids, the adults, the homeowners --  it's just awesome to get to know these people," Jirak said.