Rain doesn’t douse ‘fire’

Aug. 31-Sept. 6,06
Rain doesn’t douse ‘fire’
By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
Rain doesn’t douse ‘fire’ at youth event

Vestal — Torrential rains may have doused a planned bonfire, but did nothing to dampen the spirits of the “Faith on Fire” Summer Youth event on Saturday, Aug. 19. The nine parishes in the Western Broome Pastoral Care Area sponsored the activity.

Young people from Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Joseph, St. Ambrose, St. Anthony, and St. Casmir in Endicott; Christ the King in Endwell; Most Holy Rosary in Maine and Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal planned and participated in the Mass. “I thought that was an awesome idea having a whole bunch of different parishes here. It shows that a lot of planning and cooperation really works well,” said Zach Reardon, who read part of the general intercessions. “We don’t have a lot of youth at our church, so it helps to be around a bunch of young people.”

A choir for the Mass was made up of teens from several parishes and backed up by others playing guitars, a cello and a trumpet. “I sing in a folk group regularly,” said Michaela Mead, who helped plan the music program. “We know that everything has to go along with the readings. And go along with the theme,” she said. Because of the weather, the liturgy, games and dancing that followed were moved into Our Lady of Sorrows gymnasium. “I was looking forward to the bonfire,” said Trinity Voisvert. “I’m here because I like to sing and it really helps me feel my faith.”

Andrew Garcia was pleased that he was able to fulfill his Sunday Mass obligation and have fun too. “It just seems like a good place to be…there’s food and there’s music, so it’s good.” The gym was put to maximum use with Frisbees and balls flying all around, music from a DJ in the background and plenty of food. “We wanted to go as a group,” said Ryan Panaro. “[It’s] neat being with other parishes.” The adults who came to help out had a good time as well. “It’s very encouraging considering the weather,” said Bernadette Repetto, the DRE at St. Joseph’s. “We’ve had tropical rains and yet the kids still said, ‘Can we come?’ Which is a sign that our youth are really looking to get involved in the church.”

“I know they wanted a fire and they’re probably disappointed,” said John Gell, youth minister at Christ the King, Endwell. Gell was pleased that the young people from the nine parishes were mingling well. “I’m looking around and I’m seeing all their happy faces. This is awesome. I’m glad they’re here. I’m glad to be here and I’m glad that it’s raining.” Father John Putano, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows and Regional Vicar, was also pleased. “We were hoping to get together our youth from our different parishes. But it shows that each parish really made an effort to try to get their young people to attend.”

Father Putano is looking ahead to further success with a Southern Region youth event, which will be held on Oct. 27 and 28 with nationally known youth presenter and musician Steve Agrisano.
Schools awarded 484k reading grant

Endicott — Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Middle School will share in a grant to improve reading programs among students. The New York State Department of Education awarded the $484,400 Reading First Grant. OLS-Seton campus will work in partnership with the Charles F. Johnson School of the Union Endicott School District over a three-year period. The grant will be used to improve reading programs for kindergarten through third grade. Principal John Seward said all fourth grade students have passed the state’s English Language Arts assessment test for the last four years. “The current reading program at OLS-SC has been successful,” Seward said. “But as the student population in our school becomes more diverse we are constantly looking for ways to improve our curriculum. I believe the Reading First program will allow us to better serve our students now and into the future.”

Seward said that teachers from the Catholic school will work with their counterparts at the public school to develop skills and activities to enhance the learning experience for students. Enrollment at Our Lady of Sorrows-Seton Campus is up 8 percent over last year, with 145 students. Of that number, 58 are in grades K-3 and will be served by the Reading First grant this year. “The program will be of special help to students with special learning needs by providing them with assistance needed for the development of essential reading skills. One of the goals of this program is to ensure that all students will be at least at grade level reading ability by the end of third grade,” Seward said.

Seward is pleased with the cooperation between the public and parochial schools for the benefit of the students. “I am optimistic about the possibilities this program offers. It is refreshing to be involved with a program that is based on solid educational research, and is providing the necessary staff support.”

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