To measure the good that occurs when the Bible is not only recited but its words are put into action, one need only observe the young people from St. Mary Our Mother Parish in Horseheads.
Religious-education students in grades kindergarten through 8 devoted themselves to a Lenten project that saw them donate a considerable amount of supplies and cash to the local food pantry. The effort centered around a reflection on Matthew 25:31-46 and the pivotal words, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."
Barbara Matterazzo, St. Mary Our Mother’s faith-formation coordinator, noted that Rosemary Bloise, pastoral associate, helped devise a kickoff presentation for the project. It was a powerful scene, thanks to a man who appeared in the room while the passage from the Book of Matthew was being read. The man requested coffee, food and shelter from the cold, which catechists provided for him. It wasn’t until afterward that the students discovered this seemingly homeless person had staged his plight as planned by the organizers.
From there, the youths set forth to collect paper products, detergents, soaps and personal-care goods throughout Lent. Matterazzo noted that many local families are badly in need of such items because food stamps cannot be used toward them and Horseheads Food Pantry doesn’t always have a sufficient amount to meet the need. Children used their own money — from allowances and doing extra chores — to purchase these items. They also helped select the goods and transport them to the donation box at St. Mary Our Mother. On April 6, two days after Easter, two women from the Horseheads Food Pantry arrived at the parish to accept all that had been amassed.
"They were overwhelmed. We collected so much stuff, they had to send a truck the next day to pick it up. The person who brought the truck couldn’t believe we had collected so much and after loading it all, the entire back of the truck was full," Matterazzo remarked. "The kids did a fantastic job. This was a wonderful outpouring of generosity for the most needy in our community."
In addition, the food pantry was presented with $300 in proceeds from the parish’s bottle-and-can drive that goes on all year. That translates to approximately 6,000 bottles and cans. Matterazzo said an additional $200 from the drive was earmarked for a parish family with a little girl, Katlyn, who was enrolled in the religious-education program but was unable to continue because she has cancer.
Matterazzo said the religious-education students reread the passage from Matthew when the Lenten project ended — "only this time we saw what our action had accomplished. Indeed we helped to feed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed a stranger, clothed the naked, cared for the sick. These kids understand that what they did, they did for the least of God’s people and that in doing so they did it for Jesus."
Matterazzo lauded the children for their teamwork as well as their parents’ involvement.
"It is a great testimony to how the parents took the responsibility to teach this lesson at home too," she said. "The parents were absolutely over-the-top generous in helping their kids meet this need."Tags: Chemung County News