Nov. 20-26, 2003
By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Collaboration helps the Brady Faith Center to extend its mission
Each day after the final school bell rings, a dozen students on Syracuse’s south side do not get on the bus and head home. Rather, they make a trip to the Brady Faith Center. They remain there for an hour or two, getting help with their reading, writing and arithmetic.
But there is more than tutoring going on behind the doors of the small center, located at 404 South Avenue. It is a safe environment centered in Gospel values where students –– and adults –– feel welcomed, respected and encouraged to talk openly. The mission of the Brady Faith Center spells out love. “We are working for the mission of Christ to reach kids and make a difference in their lives,” said Father John Schopfer, director of the Brady Faith Center
This is a big task and not one that can be accomplished alone, said Father Schopfer. A majority of activities and programs at the center, including religious education, human development, vacation bible school and Bible study groups, have come to fruition through a network of local parishes and organizations who pool their resources with the Brady Faith Center. Be it opening a church hall to the children at the center or facilitating a trip for Brady youths to attend the Diocesan Youth Fest, collaboration is key.
Father Schopfer explained the emphasis on teaming up, which he sees as an extension of Christ’s ministry. “The focus of our work is sharing and networking with other parishes to live out the Gospel,” he said. “Just as Christ had 12 Apostles, we too need help.” Sharing staff and resources was a major component of the vacation bible school, said Rosemary Dacko, religious education coordinator and community outreach coordinator at the Brady Faith Center. This past summer the Brady Faith Center’s summer program offered children eight weeks of Vacation Bile School through a collaborative network of churches, individuals and organizations. “Since we have limited space at Brady, we look for opportunities to take the children off the site,” Dacko said. “We are grateful for the generosity of other churches for allowing us to share with them.” The children who participated in the Vacation Bible School were transported to churches including St. Anthony of Padua Church in Syracuse, St. Michael’s Church in Syracuse, Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church, Pentecost Evangelical Mission Baptist Church and Central Baptist Church in addition to the Brady Faith Center where they participated in fun and faith-building.
Taking the youths to different churches gave them the opportunity to make new friends, said Dacko. Father Schopfer believes there is a tremendous pool of resources and talents that becomes available when a group of people come together. “Think of all the talent that is multiplied by everyone working together,” he remarked. “You are always able to be more effective as a group than you are alone.” “You are also building wonderful friendships,” added Dacko. Over the holidays the Brady Faith Center will be joining with more than10 parishes for a Christmas Giving Program. Parishioners from the churches will be donating items to underprivileged persons and the Brady Faith Center will provide parishes with people and families who are in need of gifts, said Dacko. “It’s great to see people sharing what they have with people they don’t know,” she said. “This act of coming together as Christians is the real meaning of Christmas.”
On Nov. 30 Brady Faith Center will host its latest team effort, an Advent Afternoon of Reflection at Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Speaking at the event will be Father Joseph Champlin, rector of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, and Father Michael Carmola, director of Christ the King Retreat Center in Syracuse. It will be an opportunity for everyone to stop and reflect during the busy holiday season, said Father Schopfer. “Advent should be a time of prayer and reflection. Sometimes, in the busyness of the season, this might get lost,” Father Schopfer said. “The afternoon will help put the true meaning of Advent back into perspective.” The event will be another opportunity for people –– from all parishes and backgrounds –– to unite and grow together in the spirit of Christ. “Whenever possible, we should be working together and helping each other,” said Father Schopfer.
For more information on the Advent Afternoon of Reflection or on the Brady Faith Center, call (315) 472-9077 or visit www.bradyfaithcenter.org.