Franciscan Father Robert Schlageter, pastor of St. Paul Parish in Kensington, listens to a young man speak after a prayer service in the church on Aug. 8. It was part of the parish's annual "Send-off Dinner" for high school graduates and college students who are about to leave the area.
The seventh annual dinner took place in the parish courtyard.
This year's barbecue attracted about 30 young people.
Father Schlageter said the parish reaches out to the group in a variety of ways, including sending "care packages" during college mid-term exams and small Christmas surprises. The parish also is planning a week-long mission trip to another country for college students over winter break.
"We try to hold onto them because they're slippery fish," he said.
John Imbimbo, youth minister of the Berlin Catholic Youth Ministry at St. Paul Parish, said the older college students who attend the dinner always encourage the soon-to-be freshmen to ease the transition. He said the dinner is meant to remind college-bound members that their parish is always there for them.
"We deeply care for our college kids and want to do as much as possible for each and every one of them. Our summer sendoff picnic is just a small way to reach out to these college students of our parish," Mr. Imbimbo said.
(Photo by Tom Dzminian)