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30 hours of a harder life

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Young people at Tri-Parish Community learned what it is like to be hungry and cold, even if only briefly.

16 young people from the Tri-Parish Community of Cottonwood, Keuterville, Greencreek and Ferdinand completed a 30-Hour Fast, focusing on justice for the poor. (Courtesy photos/Debbie Chicane, Tri-Parish Community)

COTTONWOOD – Tri-Parish youth from Cottonwood, Keuterville, Greencreek and Ferdinand completed their annual 30-Hour Fast on Sunday, Oct. 23 with a breakfast provided by the parents of the 16 young people who participated. The annual event raised $2,300 for Catholic Relief Services and for victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida.

The youths and two college students who helped put on the event began fasting at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. They arrived at the Assumption Hall in Ferdinand later that day at 10 a.m. with no breakfast and some doubt as to whether they would be able to complete their tasks for the day. “However, they were ready to try,” said Debbie Chicane, who heads up youth ministry at the Tri-Parish churches.

Students who were formerly in the youth group and now in college helped Chicane organize the event. They were Shae Dinning from Lewis Clark State College and Alex McElroy from the University of Idaho.

The morning began with the young people getting water bottles and instructions as to how the day would proceed. “They were not deterred by their limited amount of juice during assigned times, snowy and cold weather and growling stomachs,” Chicane said. The youths were divided into teams that were each assigned a country to study. They read about the plight of children in each of their assigned countries and would fast and pray for those children during the day’s events.

Participants made cardboard shelters like those unhabituated by many of the world’s homeless population. (Courtesy photos/Debbie Chicane, Tri-Parish Community)

The students participated in several competitions, including one in which each team was given a large windshield box with duct tape, string and a limited amount of time to design a shelter similar to what homeless people may live in.

“There are many obstacles in this activity, but this year we were also battling frigid temperatures with snow and rain,” Chicane said. She gave the youths an option to build inside the parish hall, but they declined, noting that the poor don’t always have the option to be inside.

Leaders assigned to the weekend voted on the best structure based on creativity, sturdiness, teamwork, and use of materials. The youths reflected on the process, many astounded at how it would feel to live outside in the cold in a cardboard house.

“I learned that not everyone’s life is as easy as mine, and I am more grateful for what I have,” said Miranda Klapprich. “I realize how much I miss my house and the ability to relax and do what I want,” Morgan Poxleitner said.

The young people also made art projects to sell after Masses to raise money for Catholic Relief Services and for hurricane victims. They designed shirts that they wore at Mass as well. Two youths spoke at the different Masses, explaining why they were raising money and what they have learned from participating in the event.

After Mass, youths stood outside and spoke to the parishioners, receiving donations to help the poor. “Many of those leaving Mass saw the structures made by the youths and were amazed at their tenacity and courage to complete a project in such cold weather,” Chicane said.

At the end of their 30-hour fast, the youth blessed and commissioned each other to “act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with our Lord” (Micah 6:8) and for our world.

Chicane asked the young people what stood out for them during the 30 hours.

“I learned that my little needs are not nearly as important as others,” said Sydney Shears.

Despite being hungry from their fast, the teens worked hard, preparing food boxes and doing other activities to increase awareness of the problems and suffering of those in poverty. (Courtesy photo/Debbie Chicane, Tri-Parish Community)

“Even though you may need something, you always have something someone else needs, so share it,” said Callie Remacle.

Sarah Lustig added, “I’ve learned that going without food makes everything harder and more exhausting. It gives me appreciation for those who work all day long without food every day.”

“I learned we don’t need food and human needs as much as we need God in our lives,” said Hannah Duuck. “Also, I learned how hard it must be for the poor children who don’t have the choice to fast but have to because they don’t have food.”

“The overwhelming consensus was that through engaging in a time of sacrifice, hearts were opened to see the needs of others and also the realization, appreciation and gratitude for what was present in each of their lives that was previously taken for granted,” Chicane said.

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.

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