Though his Catholic faith was always a part of his life, Anthony Lynch said something happened to him during the summer of 2017 that deepened his faith in a profound way.
While working at the family summer camp Camp Koinonia and attending a Steubenville Youth Conference, Lynch suffered symptoms that would be later diagnosed as Lyme disease.
“That summer, I learned many things,” he said of his experiences at Camp Koinonia and Steubenville. “I came to understand that God is the highest power; he is in control, and his will is best for me even if it includes suffering.”
Young people honored for outstanding service
Anthony shared this personal experience during a Hands of Christ recognition ceremony Feb. 7 at St. Mary Our Mother Church in Horseheads. Anthony, an altar server, Boy Scout and a member of the youth group at All Saints Parish in Corning, was one of the 250 high-school seniors to receive the Hands of Christ recognition this year. The award is presented annually by the Diocese of Rochester to recognize high-school seniors who demonstrate outstanding service in their parishes, homes, schools and/or communities and demonstrate Christian attitudes through their words and examples.
In addition to the ceremony in Horseheads, students also received awards Feb. 8 and 9 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano presided at all three ceremonies.
“My dear young people, you have already accomplished so much,” he told the high-school seniors in his Feb. 9 homily. “Don’t stop here. The world very much needs you. We need your wisdom. We need you to be examples of faith.”
Hands of Christ ceremonies included Eucharistic adoration
This year, in light of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, the Diocese of Rochester’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, which organizes the Hands of Christ Award program, incorporated eucharistic adoration at the end of each ceremony.
“Being the Hands of Christ as a young person is not easy. In these times, there’s a lot of distractions and a lot of things competing for young people’s attention, so it requires a lot of sacrifice and a lot of grace,” said Mark Capellazzi, project coordinator for youth and young-adult ministry for the Diocese of Rochester. “What better way to thank God for these young people and their witnesses than to go to the source of that grace, Jesus Christ, who is the best example of sacrifice. So what a perfect way to honor the recipients by going before Jesus in the Eucharist.”
Young people share how they are the Hands of Christ
In her witness talk Feb. 8 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Maya Rouse spoke of how she tries to live out her church’s vision and mission. The Pittsford Sutherland High School senior attends St. Monica Church in Rochester, where she is involved in the youth group and a leader for the church’s Vacation Bible School.
“My faith has shown me I can be myself and make the world around me a better place,” she told her peers and their families.
The following day, Matthew Leeber told his fellow high-school seniors that at confirmation, it became his choice to continue practicing his faith and as well as his decision to help those in his school, community and church.
“To me, the Hands of Christ means being an extension of Jesus, caring about individuals and showing them kindness and thoughtfulness and living a life that includes helping those in need, but also just being of help to people in general,” said Matthew, a senior at Waterloo High School and parishioner of St. Francis-St. Clare Parish in Waterloo.
Living their faith out in college
As they prepare to graduate high school and head to college, Anthony, Maya and Matthew said they plan to continue to live out their faith.
“I definitely see myself attending church as much as possible,” said Matthew, who will attend St. John Fisher University to study sports marketing and analytics.
“I do plan to come back on weekends,” remarked Maya, who will be studying chemistry at the University of Buffalo. “I still want to be, like, involved with youth group and definitely Vacation Bible School over the summer.”
“I’ll always keep going to Mass every Sunday,” noted Anthony, who is hoping to attend Franciscan University. “Obviously, keeping the Eucharist very close is super important.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: A complete list of 2023 Hands of Christ recipients is available at https://oec.dor.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2023-Hands-of-Christ-Recipients-FOR-WEBSITE.pdfTags: Chemung County News, Eucharistic Revival, Faith in Action, Monroe County West, Seneca County News