Cash Bomar writes a blessing on a stud for her new home. The Bomar family put in more than 500 hours building their new home, joining a steady stream of volunteers, including Mount Angel seminarians.
Cash Bomar writes a blessing on a stud for her new home. The Bomar family put in more than 500 hours building their new home, joining a steady stream of volunteers, including Mount Angel seminarians.
Ben Condon uses tender, nearly homiletic metaphors regarding his experience working at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Woodburn. Condon emphasized how modest his contribution is. He cleaned and made sure the donated items were appropriately stocked in the correct locations.

When he thinks of the store, Mother Teresa’s motto of doing little things with great love comes to mind. “You do it in the most charitable and gracious way you can, and you think about helping Christ directly with what you’re doing,” Condon said.

Condon, an undergraduate seminarian for the Diocese of Sacramento, California, worked at the ReStore for a semester in 2018. “We get a chance to see how much is involved in the different service ministries,” he said.

The following semester, Condon taught religious education at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Salem, and this year he’s volunteering as part of the community faith formation program at Queen of Peace Parish in Salem. “They give you placements with more and more involvement and responsibility,” he explained.

At the ReStore, although his work was humble, “there was a feeling of being part of something greater, knowing that my stocking the shelves was helping people.”

Which brings him back to Mother Teresa. “If done with great love, little things can have a powerful effect,” he said. “I know this experience leads back to Christ.”

Stephanie Stoneking, who worked as Habitat for Humanity’s program and event manager for its North Willamette Valley group, remembers the 15 or so seminarians who arrived in September 2018 to help build a house in Mount Angel for a single mother and her three children. I was very much awed by their excitement and how they wanted to learn about the family,” she said. “It was a highlight of my work at Habitat.”

The home the seminarians worked on was one of more than 800,000 that Habitat has constructed, rehabilitated or preserved since 1976, making it the largest not-for-profit builder in the world. The Mount Angel seminarians were a handful of the 4 million people who have volunteered for Habitat, a number that includes the people who end up living in the homes. The Bomar family, who moved into the Mount Angel house, put in more than 500 hours helping build their home. Jessica Bomar, the mother, is now responsible for paying an affordable mortgage on the home, a cost reduced because of all the donated labor and supplies.

Stoneking remembers that the seminarians who helped came from all different backgrounds, with some of them very comfortable with construction and handiwork.

“All of them were eager and excited to work,” she said, recalling that she’d reminded them how Jesus came from a carpenter family, and how that was the background of Habitat’s Christian founders.

“We can use a hammer to spread the Gospel,” she said. “Habitat is a Christian organization, with a mission to better the world. The seminarians were in the same business: to better the world and be disciples of Christ.”