“Go Forth” Seminarian Mission Trip: The Potato Harvest

Thanksgiving is right around the corner where families and friends come together for a special meal to give thanks for what they have. While people may enjoy the tasteful turkey, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, pumpkin pie and other dishes, not everyone is able to have a Thanksgiving.

In fact, one in six people in America face hunger. In other words, 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table daily. As a result, local food banks, which are nonprofit, charitable organizations, distribute food to those in need during Thanksgiving. To make Thanksgiving possible for the poor of our local communities, the seminarians of the Mount harvested potatoes as part of the seminary’s “Go Forth” Mission.

The potato harvest has “become a significant operation for local food banks who distribute them to the local poor,” said Jim Bors, a seminarian from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In order to make the Potato Harvest possible, organization was needed. Seminarian Stephen Felicichia, from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., organized a team of about a dozen seminarians during the weekend of Nov. 4 to harvest and distribute potatoes.

Given the requests of the foodbanks in the area, the number of pounds of potatoes needed to collect had jumped from 500 to 3000 pounds.

“We only had one truck going, but then a very generous seminarian from West Virginia came through. His home parish is St. James the Greater… and they also happened to have 1500 pounds of potatoes they were willing to give us to begin with,” Felicichia said. At the end of the weekend of Nov. 4, approximately 4100 pounds of potatoes were harvested for this year.

The seminarians virtuously gave away 3600 pounds to local food banks, including: 3000 pounds to the South Central Community Action Program of Adams County Pennsylvania (which will be distributed to 600 families), 500 pounds to Thurmont Food Bank and 100 pounds to Emmitsburg Food Bank for their clients.

Additionally, 500 lbs of potatoes were retained to be stored in the seminary of Mount St. Mary’s “to personally distribute to the poor as part of our Mission Day delivery of Thanksgiving meals” on Nov. 18,  Bors said.

“By comparison, last year we harvested 350 pounds,” he continued. In fact, Bors personally distributed 150 pounds of potatoes, and gave 200 pounds to local food banks.

The “seminarians are a self-motivating lot when it comes to service. The process was really quite simple, albeit, monotonous,” said Felicichia. “We coordinated to leave at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 4, after our Vice-Rector of Human Formation, Msgr. Anthony Frontiero, gave us a blessing. We arrived at about 11 a.m. and joined several other volunteer groups (associated with either other local churches or simply volunteers in the area) in harvesting potatoes.”

The harvesting was completed around 2 p.m. While Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for the things we have, helping those in need is essential.

As one of Bors’ favorite Scripture passage from Phil 2:3-4 says, Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”


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