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Teenagers from St. Anthony’s Catholic Church painted a mural in the railroad underpass of West Bacon Street. This side fea­tures South Broad Street and the other side fea­tures Hillsdale College. Josephine von Dohlen | Col­legian

 

Several young adults, as part of St. Anthony’s Youth Group Mission Trip, ded­i­cated a week of their summer to rid the com­munity of a graffiti-ridden wall and replace it with some­thing mean­ingful.

A new mural in the underpass of the railroad tracks along West Bacon Street in Hillsdale out­lines some of South Broad Street’s buildings, such as the his­toric St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Stock’s Mill, and local store­fronts on one side, and many of the college’s well-rec­og­nized buildings on the other.

Shannon Petersen ’22, one of the stu­dents who worked on the mural as part of the mission trip, said he was hoping to boost some pride in the com­munity by painting the mural.

“For people coming into town, their drive into Hillsdale is going to be that much better,” he said.

Petersen worked with Heather Tritchka, a parish­ioner at St. Anthony’s and the project coor­di­nator for the mission trip, to design the cityscape, com­bining aspects of the city and struc­tures at the college.

Tritchka’s work helped the group get per­mission from the railroad company to paint the mural in the first place, a task she said she did not ini­tially antic­ipate.

“I heard from the prin­cipal at Hillsdale High School that the paperwork was very dif­ficult,” Tritchka said.

Working alongside Jake Hammel, Tritchka met with the Michigan Department of Trans­portation to discuss adding a mural to the West Bacon Street underpass.

After months of dis­cussion and brain­storming on how to avoid nearly $6,500 of required insurance to conduct the project, Tritchka said she came up with the idea that the stu­dents working on the mural would be over 18 years of age, and that their feet would never leave the sidewalk. This allowed MDOT to remove the require­ments and give Tritchka the go-ahead to begin.

With several landmark buildings of the Hillsdale com­munity in the back­ground of the mural, the fore­ground has paintings of street­lights. The mission trip par­tic­i­pants signed their names as the rays of light streaming from the street­lights.

Because they used both primer and a paint with sealer, upkeep for the mural should be easy, Tritchka said.

Painting the mural on West Bacon Street was just one part of the St. Anthony’s Youth Group Mission Trip. Dozens of children went out into the com­munity and helped indi­viduals in other ways, such as helping the elderly with their yard work, house-cleaning, or building a ramp for a woman outside her home.

“This year I feel like we hit more aspects of out­reach to the com­munity,” Tritchka said.

The mural, however, was one of the most visible projects for the com­munity, she said.

Teaching the kids about com­munity service was a large com­ponent of the mission trip, which takes place every other year.

“It’s about showing kids that you can serve the people down the street,” Emily Blatter, a youth min­istry vol­unteer at St. Anthony’s, said. “It’s opening their eyes to know where they’re needed in their com­mu­nities.”

Blatter said that she wit­nessed many of the teenagers being moved with how much of an impact they had doing some­thing as simple as helping someone clear their yard.

“The mission trip is kid-focused,” she said. “We’re edu­cating the youth and helping them grow.”

Petersen said one of his favorite parts of the mission trip wasn’t just helping the com­munity, but devel­oping his faith as well.

“I liked being able to go to con­fession and Mass and just being able to par­tic­ipate in my faith with everybody,” he said.

While much of the mission trip’s com­munity work was done by the kids, several adults in the com­munity donated their time and resources to make sure each project was fin­ished well.

Tritchka said that she has heard many pos­itive things from many in the com­munity who have since seen the mural.

“For the next year it would be great to hit all parts of com­munity service, in the house, on the yard, and in the com­munity,” Tritchka said. “There is some­thing for absolutely everybody.”

Because it was the oldest kids on the mission trip who worked on the mural, Petersen said he saw it as a gift that they got to give to the younger teenagers on the mission trip.

“We got to give them some­thing that they can have to remember the trip by, hope­fully for a very long time,” he said.