Basilica hosts teens for re-booted WorkCamp

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Diocese of Arlington was unable to present their traditional diocesan-wide WorkCamp this summer. The annual program provides teenagers an opportunity to perform large-scale service projects in the region, as well as gatherings for prayer and fellowship. With the statewide COVID-19 restrictions in mind, the diocese decided to “re-boot” WorkCamp and encouraged individual parishes to organize projects for the campers.

The Basilica of Saint Mary is hosting 17 teenage parishioners this week for WorkCamp Re-Boot. Together with eight adult volunteer supervisors, the WorkCampers are repairing the deteriorating alley wall near the parish’s Pitt Street parking lot, repainting and repairing the rectory carport, painting classrooms at the Basilica School of Saint Mary and removing weeds throughout the parish’s properties.

“I feel like the spirit of the traditional WorkCamp is still present this year,” said Stephen Ruhlen, a rising senior at Gonzaga High School. “At first, I was disappointed because I thought it was going to be canceled. When I heard they were bringing it to Alexandria, I was really excited. We are having a great time this week.”

“This has been a unique opportunity this year to have the kids perform their service at the parish,” said Arragon Perrone, the Basilica’s Director of Youth and Young Adults. “Usually when they perform their service work, the teens never get to see their completed work again. Now, whenever they come to the parish for Mass or to pray, they can point to something and say, ‘I helped fix that.”

“This is my parish and I will be walking through that alley we just did cement work on,” said Ruhlen. “I will be reminded of this every Sunday when I go to Mass.”

In addition to the service work, the WorkCampers are going to daily Mass in the Basilica, praying, having meals together, playing games and attending virtual evening programs with WorkCampers from other parishes. One of those evening programs featured Bishop Burbidge leading Eucharistic adoration and giving a reflection.

Throughout the Diocese of Arlington, 38 parishes are hosting around 700 teens in this week’s WorkCamp Re-Boot.

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