Submitted by Lisa Matto 

The young people of St. James Church in Cazenovia have had a summer of faith formation, service, and travel.

Each Thursday the high school students worked with the 5- to 12-year-olds attending the Brady Faith Center’s Summer School Program. The St. James students would coordinate art projects, games, outdoor activities, and faith-based projects.

Morgan Gregg, a soon-to-be junior at Cazenovia High School, said, “It was so much fun to work with kids who were not from my own community. It gave me a different perspective on what community really means.” Kirsten Underwood, who will be a senior in the fall, said, “I am very thankful I was able to be part of the summer program from Brady. I just loved the kids and doing all the different activities with them. I can’t wait to be able to go back and see them.”

It was a wonderful experience for all involved.  I was very proud of how committed my high school students were to this service.  The students from St. James who participated in the service were Kirsten Underwood, Sadie Coleman, Kenzie Usborne, Morgan Gregg, Mackenzie Gregg, Anna Ziemba, Katrina Wilson, Jenay Griffin, Kelly Frost, and Julia Falge.

Some of the St. James high school students participated in a three-day youth-group trip to Boston.  It was amazing!

We went to the Prudential Center, Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall, Little Italy, and Fenway Park or a Red Sox game. We also visited the aquarium, and set sail on a sunset cruise around the harbor. Mass on Sunday was at St. Anthony Shrine, which is directed by the Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province. After the Mass, the students were able to meet Friar Mike Johnson and some of the other friars who reside there. We had a tour of the facility and learned about their amazing outreach program. It was a very busy weekend and our high school kids were fantastic!

The EDGE program, a youth ministry, kicked off for students in grades 5-7. The summer session is 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays through August 30. EDGE was developed by Life Teen for middle-school kids. It provides a blueprint for parishes to initiate a safe, fun, and positive alternative for this age group. The junior-high years can be a stressful time for kids and parents.

The response from students in the Cazenovia community has been phenomenal. Each week we have 35 to 40 students from Cazenovia Middle School, Christian Brothers Academy, and Immaculate Conception School come out for an evening of faith and fun with their friends.

Our high school students volunteer each week to help with the kids and all the activities. They are wonderful role models and leaders to the middle-schoolers.

Each week we go for ice cream at Carter’s Creamery and then come back and do a creative activity that strengthens their relationship with God and one another.

After the activity everyone participates in a game. We have done slip and dip kickball with inflatable pools and slip and slides for bases, musical pie in the face, and capture the flag.

Participant Dylan Shepard said, “We get to see our friends and play all kinds of games. Slip and dip kickball is my favorite along with getting ice cream!”

Our school session will begin  Oct. 4 and run on the first Wednesday of every month. We hope to keep our middle-school kids connected to the parish during these years, as well as their parents.

We are very thankful for the McDevitt Grant that we were awarded to launch the program.

Lisa Matto is the faith-formation director at St. James Church in Cazenovia.

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