At home, these young Catholics lend helping hands to sick or disabled siblings, parents
and grandparents. Extra responsibility may arise due to single-parent circumstances
brought on by divorce or death. In the case of Mark Callan (Our Lady of Perpetual Help,
Rochester) he pitched in at home while his father was on military duty in Iraq.
They offer their hands to other people in need, such as Brian Traugott (St.
Christopher, Chili), who supported a sick and dying friend; or Connor Regan (St.
Catherine of Siena, Mendon), who regularly joins his dad in aiding the homeless. They
seek justice in their schools, as exemplified by the involvement of Thomas Castle (St.
Mary Our Mother, Horseheads) in a “bully-proofing” organization.
These are among the many noble deeds by 700-plus diocesan high-school seniors
who have earned Hands of Christ awards. The honor is presented annually to recognize
outstanding service in the parish, school and/or community. Bishop Matthew H. Clark
presented individual plaques during Hands of Christ services held Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 at
Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, as well as Oct. 7 at Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception
Nearly all diocesan parishes were represented at these gatherings. Several of them
produced large numbers of candidates — and so did a couple of households: This year
there are two sets of Hands of Christ triplets, with Mark, Michael and Katlyn Joy (Holy
Family Catholic Community in Steuben and Livingston counties) and Althea, Dylan and
John Menguy (Brighton’s Our Lady Queen of Peace) all receiving plaques.
Speaking of big families, how about Julie Beiter (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Hamlin)?
She put her love for children to good use by joining a volunteer team that helped settle a
neighboring family to which quintuplets were born earlier this year.
Numerous Hands of Christ honorees are highly active in their parishes. For instance,
congregants at St. Patrick Church in Cato are well-acquainted with Elizabeth MacDavitt,
Paul Meccariello and T.K. Hayden through their many years of altar serving. At St. John
Church in Port Byron, Nicole Wiggins has held longtime roles in altar serving, lectoring
and cantoring. Carol Turo, meanwhile, has lengthy experience as an altar server, cantor
and extraordinary minister of holy Communion at St. Charles Borromeo in Greece.
Other teens serve in less visible capacities, such as being sponsors for confirmation
or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. They take on adult-like roles as members of
their parish pastoral council and instructors in religious-education programs. At
Irondequoit’s Christ the King Parish, several Hands of Christ seniors were faith-formation
instructors in a sexuality program for eighth-graders.
Some Hands of Christ recipients have ventured far beyond their home towns, raising
their awareness of issues affecting the world. Consider Abe Moll, Sean Clancy and Kyle
Edwards (St. Mary of the Lake, Ontario), who attended Public Policy Day in Albany
earlier this year. And Veronica Palladino (All Saints, Lansing), who has taken part in
three mission trips through her parish youth group, assisting the poor in West Virginia
and South Carolina — and even going abroad to Guatemala.
The list goes on and on: Being active in parish youth group. Going to diocesan rallies
and conventions. Attending Mass every Sunday despite sports, studies, social lives and
other potential scheduling conflicts.
Volunteering at local fire and ambulance departments. Sharing space and
camaraderie in homes with foreign-exchange students.
Raking leaves and shoveling snow for senior citizens who can’t perform such chores.
Bringing Communion to the homebound and spending social time with them.
Embarking on Scouting projects that will benefit the community. Becoming active in
anti-drunken-driving and anti-abortion programs.
Standing up for the Catholic faith in frequently challenging social environments, as
youth minister Amy Mikolajczyk (Our Lady of the Valley, western Steuben County)
noted is the case with many of her high-school seniors.
Overall, there are some 1,400 reasons to get excited about the future of our diocese.
That totals out to 700 pairs of hands — Hands of Christ.