UMSL Catholic Newman Center members spend service time at West Virginia farm

UMSL students at Bethlehem Farm

Twenty members of UMSL’s Catholic Newman Center spent their spring break completing community service on Bethlehem Farm in Talcott, W.Va.


While most University of Missouri–St. Louis students spent spring break on icy cold slopes or hot sandy beaches, twenty members of the Catholic Newman Center at UMSL felt compelled to do otherwise. Nineteen students and Rachelle Simon, the CNC campus minister, chose to spend their break completing community service on Bethlehem Farm.

Bethlehem Farm is a Catholic community located in rural Talcott, W.Va. There are a total of nine caretakers that live and work on the farm, as well as provide community service to the people of Appalachia. The farm operates on four cornerstones of living: prayer, service, community and simplicity.

Lucy Ellerman, president of the Catholic Newman Center, described the experience as life changing and heart fulfilling. Even though the work seemed daunting, and the students were all physically exhausted, Ellerman said the students began to appreciate what their bodies could accomplish.

Tina Ingoldsby, a member of the Catholic Newman Center and Bethlehem Farm visitor, recalled some of the service as frustrating.

“But when you step back and imagine the larger picture of what your hard work really means in someone else’s life, the peace of God fills you and gives you the strength to continue,” Ingoldsby said.

She also enjoyed living off of the land, having no concept of time and having no access to technology. She shared that the students felt as though these parameters helped to build stronger bonds within the Newman community.

All students that spent time on Bethlehem Farm recalled the experience as incredibly humbling and unforgettable, and “would definitely go to Bethlehem Farm again.”

Allison Jostrand is a senior communication major at UMSL.


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