High School Service Retreat “Seeing the Face of Jesus” New York City June 23 – June 28, 2019



The High School Youth program from Little Flower has designed their own week-long service retreat called “Seeing the Face of Jesus”. Over 5 nights and 6 days in New York City, students will be on a mission to encounter Christ through meaningful hands-on service, fellowship, spiritual reflection and cultural experiences.

Fr. Patrick Lewis will lead the religious activities and discussions. Adult chaperones from our parish will supervise the students and manage all logistical aspects of the retreat. As schedules permit we hope to have other priests and any seminarian assigned to our parish for the summer join us as well.

Meaningful Service Work

New York City provides countless opportunities to see the face of Jesus in the hungry, the homeless, the lonely and the immigrants. Students will be inspired by the people and organizations who dedicate themselves to easing the burden of those less fortunate.

Each day we will divide up into small groups and travel by subway/bus to a different service site. Students will have a chance to learn about and work at each of the following organizations:

  • Missionaries of Charity Soup Kitchens, The Bronx and Harlem
  • Helping the Sisters from Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s order to serve over 200 lunches daily
  • Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, Chelsea
  • Serving nutritious meals to 1,000 homeless and hungry at NYC’s largest emergency food program
  • St. Francis Youth Center, The Bronx
  • Helping the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal clean/prep their facility for summer camp the neighborhood kids
  • Cabrini Immigrant Services, Lower East Side
  • Helping ESL adult students practice English
  • Stocking and operating the food pantry that serves 700 immigrant families

Faith-Building Activities

In addition to encountering Christ by serving those in need, this retreat will offer:

  • Daily Mass with the homily geared toward high school students by our own priests at a variety of churches
  • Time for daily prayer, journaling and private reflection
  • Meet and hear from the Missionaries of Charity and the Franciscan Friars & Sisters of the Renewal about their own mission work and spiritual journeys
  • Retreat will culminate with an evening of song, confessions, adoration at The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (“Old St. Pat’s”; the oldest cathedral in the city—200 years!).

Educational Enrichment & “Only in NYC” Attractions

After putting in an honest day’s work, we will have the chance to take in NYC’s culture, history and fun! Students, again, can look for the face of Jesus in NYC’s churches, art museums, historical sites—as well in each other as we navigate the streets and subways of NYC together! Plans are in the works for special “only in NY” excursions such as:

  • A guided tour of the Tenement Museum to learn and see how various immigrant groups lived and worked in NYC’s Lower East Side neighborhood
  • A New York Yankees game
  • Hudson River boat tour
  • Walking tour and activities in Central Park
  • Visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Housing and Meals

Our home-base will be private retreat center that is part of a local Catholic church in the upper-most section of Manhattan. It is safe, clean and everyone will have his/her own twin bed! There is no service staff, so this will be an opportunity for teamwork and self-agency. Students will make and pack their own lunches (food provided), teams will be assigned to set out and clean up after dinner (provided by caterer). On the last day, we will have all hands on deck to leave the retreat house as clean as we found it (or even cleaner!)

San Damiano Retreat House at Church of the Good Shepherd; 630 Isham Street, New York, NY 10034

(Cross Street is 207th Street, Inwood neighborhood, 1 block from Subway A Train)

  • Students will stay in dorm-style double rooms (2 twin beds)
  • Floors separated by gender;
  • Shared hall bathroom on each floor (boys’ bath on one floor, girls’ on another)
  • Kitchen on-site, but we are required to stock with food, prepare some meals, and clean (good exercise in teambuilding!)

Application Process

Due to the limited number of spots available (minimum of 18 students; maximum of 36 students), as well as the serious nature of the trip, the students will be selected by their parish priests and youth minister through an application and interview process as needed. In addition, once selected, students will be required to attend an informational session prior to the trip to learn about and prepare for the service work.

Who should apply:

  • Mature, responsible students who have a sincere desire to participate and are looking to achieve new personal growth.
  • Rising Sophomores and above; must be at least 15 years old. Students over 18 at the time of the trip will be required to complete ADW Virtus certification.

How to apply:

  • Complete and then submit the online application or the paper form to the parish rectory (ATTN: HIGH SCHOOL SERVICE TRIP on the envelope)
  • Applications should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than March 30, 2019.
  • Upon receipt of your application, you will receive an email to set up an interview.
  • Acceptances will be given on first come basis with priority to LFS parishioners.
  • Once accepted, a $200 deposit will be required. Deposit will be non-refundable after May 1st.


  • $ 600 ALL INCLUSIVE— housing, meals, subway/bus pass for the week, transportation by chartered bus there and back, and all fees for activities and excursions. (The only out-of-pocket expenses would be for any snacks/souvenirs purchased separately)
  • Need-based scholarship may be available: Financial hardship should not exclude any interested student from applying. Please contact Fr. Lewis if you need financial assistance.

Basic Itinerary (not set in stone; expect slight variations)

Sunday, June 23

  • 9:00 am Sunday Mass
  • 10:30 am departure by chartered bus from Little Flower School
  • 3:00 pm arrival NYC, San Damiano Retreat House
  • Dinner
  • Orientation/ evening activity

TYPICAL DAY’s ITINERARY (Monday – Thursday)

  • 6:30 am Wake up
  • 7:00 am Breakfast and group prayer
  • 8:00 am Depart with assigned group to service sites
  • 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Service work (lunch at sites)
  • 2:30 pm Return to Retreat House or continue to NYC excursion
  • Most days will allow free time or group outing/sightseeing
  • Evenings will include Dinner (kitchen duty), Mass, Community Sharing/Reflection and fun time!
  • 11:00 pm Lights Out

Friday, June 28

  • Group cleanup of facility
  • Early afternoon departure back to D.C.
  • Return by chartered bus to Little Flower between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm


  • Students must treat all adults with courtesy and respect, and be agreeable to all instruction.
  • Students must treat all fellow students with courtesy and respect.
  • Students must maintain an atmosphere of respect and reverence for the spiritual endeavors of events. (Keep a spirit of prayer.)
  • Students must refrain from the use of foul language.
  • Students must follow the directives established for specific activities.
  • We will be working with the poor. Students are expected to engage with those we serve (not just your peers and friends in our group) and to treat them with kindness, respect, and dignity.
  • We will be traveling by public transportation every day and doing plenty of walking in New York City. Students MUST stay with their chaperones and their designated small group, and carefully follow all directives of the adult chaperones. Students will exchange cell phone numbers with their leaders in case of an emergency.
  • There will be zero tolerance for violation of the following guidelines:
  • Students may not vandalize any surface, whether at the convent where we stay or on the streets of New York.
  • Students must not engage in any form of violence.
  • Students may not smoke, chew or dip tobacco, or use alcoholic beverages.
  • Illegal substances (any illegal drugs or paraphernalia) are strictly forbidden. If anyone is in violation of this rule they will be expelled from the trip and reported to authorities.
  • Students must dress appropriately and modestly:
  • Shirts must be crew-neck t-shirts. Nothing low-cut, no crop tops, no cutouts, no sleeveless tank tops (must at least have short sleeves).
  • Shorts must be AT LEAST to mid-thigh. This will be strictly enforced.
  • We are working with religious orders who have specific rules for modest dress. When we serve with the Missionaries of Charity, they indicate that you must wear pants, with no holes or tattered edges.
  • No clothing with inappropriate words/symbols/messages or any messages contrary to Catholic teaching.
  • We will be doing a lot of working, walking, and taking public transportation. Flip-flops will only be allowed within the house where we are staying. When we go out you must have closed-toe shoes.
  • Appropriate attire for church is expected for at least 2 outings. Boys are asked to wear collared shirts and girls should have sweaters to cover any bare shoulders.

We have read and understood the guidelines above and we agree that the student will adhere to them during this service trip to New York. We understand that if the student is found in violation of any of the above, their parents will be notified and at the discretion of the trip chaperones they may be expelled from the trip. In this case the parents agree that they will personally pick up their child in New York at our lodging site within 24 hours.

2018 Trip Video