Over the Columbus Day weekend, students from Saint Joseph’s College ventured to Mercy Farm in Benson, Vermont, which is run by Sisters of Mercy and is described as an eco-spiritual center. The SJC students and staff were hosted by sisters Holly Cloutier, Betty Secord, and Mary Quinn.

The trip was a part of the College’s annual tradition of providing a social-justice focused trip that takes place over each Columbus Day break, sponsored by the College’s Mercy Center.

This year, the four students, along with Coordinator of Social Justice and Leadership Kathryn Cody, helped winterize the farm by cleaning the barn for the animals as well as turning the soil and weeding the yard. Beyond that, the focus of the trip was ecology and sustainability.

“The Sisters of Mercy provided us with their workshop titled ‘Awakening the Dreamer,’” says Cody, “where we focused on ecology and sustainability in the world today. Each day had a different focus: where are we?, how did we get here?, what is possible for the future?, and where do we go from here? Each day we spent time reflecting on these questions and their relation to our lives—emotionally, physically, spiritually, and as a community.”

Students have traveled to various locations for service trips in the past, but this is the first year that the College has done work at Mercy Farm. However, Cody says that she hopes to return to Mercy Farm with more students in the future.

“The goals that we hoped to accomplish on this trip were to build community with one another, to serve the sisters and the community they serve, to grow in our appreciation for the earth and our resources, and to do all of these things as an expression of our love for our neighbors,” says Cody.

Junior nursing student Aliyah Gregory says that the service component of the trip was paramount, “helping out in any way possible and enjoying the company of other while serving others.” She goes on to say that the trip has given her the motivation to do as much as she can to help make Saint Joseph’s College more sustainable and eco-friendly.

For more information about the Mercy Farm trip or if you have any interest in doing service work with Saint Joseph’s College, contact Kathryn Cody, coordinator of social justice and leadership, at kcody@sjcme.edu or at 207-893-7794.