Fr. Christopher Kirchgessner directed the Belmont Abbey Benedictine Volunteer Corps retreat this year from August 5-12, cohosted by Belmont Abbey monastery and the Sisters of Mercy of the Southeast Region at their Sacred Heart campus. The retreat has helped prepare the year’s volunteers, Jessica Camano, Anne Parlmer, Michael Bedard, and Kevin Barrett, for their nine months of service in Tanzania, Africa. During the retreat, among other things, the volunteers received instruction on emotionally and spiritually preparing themselves for their service work, and on the culture of the people of Tanzania. There were also activities and conversations aimed at helping the four volunteers form bonds of friendship and mutual support with each other, since that was very helpful for them in Tanzania.
The Benedictine Volunteer Corps program of Belmont Abbey annually funds four graduates of Belmont Abbey College to spend nine months doing volunteer work in Africa. While there, the volunteers stayed with Benedictine communities, and helped them in a variety of ways with their apostolates. Past volunteers have taught in schools, worked in clinics, worked with orphans, and helped out with simple building projects, among other things. Their period of service in Africa has frequently been a life-changing experience for past volunteers, in a very positive way.