Kindness has no limit

Aug 18-31, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 28
Kindness has no limit
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Luminary Mass held at St. Cecilia’s Church

SOLVAY — On Aug. 4, a Luminary Mass was held at St. Cecilia’s Church in Solvay. The Mass was intended to facilitate praying for victims of cancer and also the survivors and caregivers. Included in the list of cancer victims was Marc Ball, a former lector and religious education teacher at St. Cecilia’s. “We were so affected by Marc,” said St. Cecilia’s youth minister Terri Condon. The youth group became involved with raising funds for the American Cancer Society as a result of Marc’s death.

The high school youth group lined one of the church’s side entrances with close to 100 luminary bags, many left over from the Solvay-Geddes Relay 4 Life fundraising event they participated in on June 17. St. Cecilia’s teens raised over $2,000 for the American Cancer Society. They won the Best Theme award, competing with 70 teams. They were dressed in wigs, tie-dyed shirts and held a ‘70’s sit-in under the team name “Groovin 4 A Cure.” In an attempt to secure more sponsors, the youth sold purple rosaries and luminary bags. Each bag was sold in memory of a person who had died from cancer, was decorated in a ‘70’s era motif and included the person’s name who had donated it.

Because it rained during the Relay 4 Life event, the luminary bags were unable to be lit during the customary luminary service. Consequently, the teens ignited the bags at the Luminary Mass at St. Cecilia’s. “We felt we needed to light them in a prayerful way,” said Condon. “It was a nice experience,” said youth group member Steve Hughes. “We held the Mass inside a circle of illuminated luminary bags. Walking around, seeing the names on the bags, it made you think about how many people have suffered the loss of someone.”

The youth group raised over $2,000 on their school break in February during their annual Famine fundraiser. The youth group at St. Cecilia’s has participated in the annual Famine for over 10 years and has contributed over $15,000 to local charities. The group contributed washing machines and bedding supplies for the Oxford Inn, a kitchen sink for the Samaritan Center, and food for St. Lucy’s food pantry. But this year, the teens decided to send pastoral vicar Father Machira home for a visit with a $2,000 check, from the funds that they had raised, to help his parish community. “We have grown to love the stories told by Father Paul about his village back home in Kenya,” said Condon.

During the Famine, the 25 teens went without solid food for over 24 hours. Condon said that every year the teens look forward to participating in the Famine. “The kids love it,” said Condon. “It’s a wonderful way for kids to raise their awareness about hunger. We’re hungry together — it teaches us a good lesson.”

Marianna Cavacai liked participating in the Famine. “It felt cleansing to me,” said Cavacai. “I found out what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes.”

Hughes thought the Famine was the best event he had participated in all year. “I enjoyed it the most,” remarked Hughes. “Terri kept us so busy, we did0n’t think about eating.” The teens’ activities during the Famine included touring Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Syracuse, ice skating at the Clinton Square Ice Skating Rink and watching movies.

Hughes liked the idea of donating funds to help Father Machira’s community in Kenya. “I had no idea what life was like there until I heard Father Paul’s stories,” said Hughes. “There’s no place these people can go to get help.”

This year, the youth group has donated over $5000 to various organizations, including the Brady Faith Center in Syracuse. “Teenagers are very, very eager to do for others, and they are very concerned about social issues,” said Condon. “Social injustice and poverty weigh heavily on their minds. They want to do something to help. They really need this avenue.”

Cavacai feels she is making a difference through her involvement in the fundraising events. “It really does count — it takes two minutes out of your day,” she said.

Reflecting on the group’s fundraising efforts, Hughes was awed by the results. “We did some amazing things,” he said. “It’s amazing that 10-20 kids can raise that much money.”

“These kids have worked very hard,” said Condon. “They are kids that do a lot.”

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