July 21-Aug 3, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 26
Frosting on the Cake
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Chuck Wainwright
The day of reckoning came for youth minister John Woloszyn on July 10 when he was subjected to having his head shaved bald by three members of the “It’s Cool to be Catholic” Youth Fellowship group at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Liverpool.
Last December, Woloszyn announced that he would allow his head to be shaved bald if the youth fellowship members were able to fund their entire upcoming youth conference trip through fundraising events. “I proposed the idea to excite them and to make it fun,” sid Woloszyn.
The group was successful in raising $7000 to cover the expense of the entire trip, enabling 37 youth to attend the High School Youth Conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville on July 15. “I’m excited about them meeting their goal – it’s part of that goal to be givers, not takers — not looking to see what the parish can give them,” said Woloszyn. “I want them to be self-sufficient.”
Megan Kirsch has been a member of the fellowship group ever since its inception one year ago. She was impressed when she heard Woloszyn’s intention. “It was kind of cool that he would do something that random to motivate us,” remarked Kirsch.
Youth fellowship member Albert Tubbert was excited when he heard about the possible head-shaving. “I thought it was great,” remarked Tubbert.
Woloszyn’s announcement took Ellen Patulski and her friends by surprise. “We were shocked — we didn’t think he was going to do it,” said Patulski. “I think its awesome — it’s a great motivator.”
Approximately 100 parishioners and youth fellowship members wearing green tee shirts imprinted with the words “Cool to be Catholic” gathered outside that day, in front of the Religious Education Center to witness the head-shaving. “This really connected the parish to the youth,” said Woloszyn. “The youth have a lot to give to the church.”
The ceremony was marked with an abundance of joking between Woloszyn and those in attendance. At the beginning of the ceremony, Woloszyn tried to get youth fellowship member Tubbert to stand in for him. When that attempt failed, a bald parishioner encouraged Woloszyn to proceed with the shaving. “I changed my mind,” joked Woloszyn. At that point, the crowd cheered: “Shave it!” Then one of the teens began shaving Woloszyn’s head after shouting: “Everybody ready?” At one point, Woloszyn got up from the stool he was sitting on and said, “I can’t!” A few people from the crowd assured him that his hair would grow back. Halfway through the process of shaving, Woloszyn’s daughter took over the shaving task. Then another teen finished the clipping process. When his hair was completely shaved off, the audience applauded.
“He did pretty good — I thought he’d chicken out,” remarked Kirsch. Tubbert was impressed. “It was pretty great, especially since he asked me to stand in for him,” said Tubbert
Reflecting on the shaving experience, Woloszyn said that he thought it was fun. “It feels fuzzy,” remarked Woloszyn. “For the kids, I’d do almost anything.”
The “Cool to be Catholic” Youth Fellowship has been in existence at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Liverpool for approximately one year, and close to 50 youths aged 13 to 19 years old participate in the program. “We are a small faith community,” explained Woloszyn. “We give them a safe place to share their faith while participating in service projects.”
Several youth fellowship members said the thing they like the most about the group is the friendships that have developed in the last year. “I met one of my best friends through this group,” said Tubbert. Kirsch also enjoys her friends. “We’re all real supportive of one another,” she said.
Woloszyn explained that the conferences have offered life-changing experiences for many of the youth who have attended. “I’ve attended the conferences for the last two years and they’ve been life-changing experiences,” said Tubbert. Woloszyn hopes that the teens experience God in a new way when they attend the conference. “We have been encouraging them to be open to what He has in store for them and to what can happen to them,” he said. The teens will gather for a shared expression of faith filled with prayer and praise.
The youth began their fundraising efforts in December when they operated a coffee house in the church gym. They also held a used book sale and a garage sale. The youth also collected used ink cartridges for redemption and conducted a bottle drive to raise funds for the trip. “I’m pretty proud of us,” remarked Kirsch. “We did a phenomenal job!”