The team of the Office of Evangelization is stepping up their game this year, working hard to make this year’s Block Party the best yet. The third annual Hilltop Communities Block Party, originally scheduled for April 7, will now be held on April 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Tower of Power Ministries parking lot in Steubenville.
Many students may wonder exactly what a block party is. Rhett Young, director of Mission Outreach, described a block party as “franciscan students loving on the community.” Open to all who live in the hilltop communities, the day will feature face painting, a cookout, snow cones, music, football, Frisbee and other activities. Last year, over 600 people attended the event. Some new additions will be bouncy houses and popcorn hole donated by the newly opened Renaissance Coffee.
Young explained how the tradition of the block parties started three years ago as an idea from Men’s Mission House to do something off campus for the community. “Dirty Vagabond already had a Block Party, so we took that amazing idea and duplicated it on a much bigger scale. Our goal is to have Franciscan students running it.”
“It’s a lot of fun and a great time, getting to serve others; it’s a ministry where you get to experience true joy,” said junior Diane Wack, who works for the Office of Evangelization at the university and is helping with the event.
Young explained how often Franciscan students have a “beautiful desire to go out and to change the world” and how there are many amazing mission trips. However, being able to serve the local community just down the hill is just as important.
Brother David Dodd, TOR, who will be representing the Missionary Outreach Office, agreed with enthusiasm: “This is my first year doing this, and I’m looking forward to see the community gather and building good relationships with them.”
Young shared some of the trials of past years, such as how in the first year 600 people showed up and there were no bathrooms; last year it rained. Senior Leo Herman had his soccer ball with him, so they threw down two tables to make goals and played soccer in the rain, said Young. “Needless to say, we’ve definitely learned some things over the years,” he said.
The Block Party is sponsored by the Urban Mission, Dirty Vagabond Ministries, Tower of Power Ministries, Franciscan Sisters of the Third Order Regular and Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Missionary Outreach Office. Each of the households is given a task to be in charge of as well. For example, this year AMDG is barbecuing and Parkhurst is providing food and drinks.
Young also shared some statistics on exactly how many Franciscan students serve in the local community on a regular basis: “At least 250 students are serving in the community every week,” he said. “Not a lot of people realize that.”
“We’re planting seeds by taking the first step in evangelization, which is to be a friend,” said Young.