Seminarian in the weeds for Jesus

The parable about the wheat and tares will have special meaning for seminarian Sam Schmidt, left and below, as he continues his studies. He was pulling tares (weeds) Friday, June 16, during an early morning weeding session with the help of Jaycee Tyler, center, and Lauren Rust-Diaz who work with the Children First program. (Advance photos)

Seminarian Sam Schmidt is feeding the souls – and the bodies – of children this summer.

The fourth-year college seminarian from the St. Joseph House of Formation in Wichita is teaching children at St. Anne, St. Margaret Mary, and St. Patrick parishes this summer how to garden and how to cook the fruits of their labor.

He is working with the Children First program, associated with AmeriCorps, which is designed to teach gardening techniques to children and how to cook what they’ve grown.

Teaching life-long skills

“The parishes have little vegetable gardens set up,” he said. “The hope is that the kids are able to learn how to garden…to equip them with skills to combat the poverty they might encounter.”

The biblical stories about weeds are going to have more meaning for Schmidt as he continues in his priestly studies. One of his duties this summer is to keep the gardens weed-free along with nurturing the crops.

“On Tuesdays and Fridays the kids come out to camps where they spend time in the garden and the kitchen,” he said.
“They’re the ones cutting, placing it into pans, and cooking the food. I get to be one of the people who guides them in that process.”

Nourishing souls, too

Not only is Schmidt getting plenty of vitamin D for his body, he said he is also getting nourishment for his soul.
“There is something therapeutic about it. I finish the day with dirt all over my hands and look back over my day and see that something’s been done,” he said.

The “benefit,” he said, is that the weeds come back the next week and he gets to repeat his therapy.

Schmidt said he enjoys watching the children after they make a meal. “They’re dishes people would eat such a quiche, chili noodles, and kale salad. That’s the stuff we’re harvesting. It’s really rewarding.”