Up until recently, Peter Corina had never been inside a Catholic church
in Tompkins County other than his own. But now the 16-year-old, from
Immaculate Conception Parish in Ithaca, hopes to tour all five Tompkins
churches within the next year or so.
Peter’s motivation stems from the two regional youth Masses he has
attended this year, with the most recent one taking place Sept. 27 at
Holy Cross Church in Dryden. Nearly 50 young people, representing close
to half the overall congregation, were spotlighted during Holy Cross’
weekly 5:30 p.m. Mass.
To accentuate the day’s focus on youth and multiparish
representation, young people from each Tompkins parish carried out
liturgical roles. Ushers, greeters and altar servers were provided by
Holy Cross; gift-bearers were from St. Anthony’s in Groton; lectors
came from St. Catherine of Siena in Ithaca; eucharistic ministers were
from Immaculate Conception; and general intercessions were handled by
All Saints in Lansing.
“It’s exciting. It brings everyone together under God and shows how
the youth can participate in Mass. There’s a lot of opportunities,”
said Ed Carey, 15, a longtime altar server from St. Anthony’s. Ed and
his brother Eric, 11, were gift-bearers for the youth Mass.
Carolann Darling, St. Anthony’s youth minister, said the special
event was held as part of a regularly scheduled liturgy “so it would be
inclusive, intergenerational and family friendly — so the faith
communities could come together to witness the young people’s presence
and ministries and affirm them as full members of the church.”
Serving as celebrant was Father Peter Abue, an extern priest from
Nigeria who is assisting at St. Anthony’s and Holy Cross parishes while
attending Cornell University. Father Abue encouraged youths and adults
in attendance to continue supporting and taking part in youth
activities, both within their parishes and across the diocese.
Peter, remarking upon his first visit to Holy Cross, said the church
— located approximately 14 miles northeast of Ithaca — is much more
compact than his own. “It was small but very active,” he said, noting
that congregants responded with enthusiasm to Father Abue’s
hand-clapping during youth-oriented music provided by St. Anthony and
Immaculate Conception adults. Spirits remained high after the Mass, as
community-building activities prepared by youths from St. Catherine’s
helped participants get to know each other better.
The Mass at Holy Cross was a follow-up to a regional youth liturgy
held last March at Immaculate Conception. Regional youth ministers said
response has been so solid that they’re hoping to begin offering a
youth liturgy every three or four months, rotating among all the
“I think that’s a good idea. You meet new people of all ages and see
the different ways a priest does the Mass,” said Peter. He lectored at
the March liturgy and is also a regular lector at his parish.
Rich Rasmussen, Immaculate Conception’s youth minister, said the
Masses are good examples of how Tompkins parishes follow the spirit of
the diocesan pastoral-planning process, in which groups of parishes are
called to share their activities and resources.
“It really gives the kids a larger sense of the church community and
what church is. We get so stuck in our own routines at our own
churches,” Rasmussen commented. “The energy and enthusiasm behind all
the youth ministers is really great. We do really well down here; we
all really enjoy each other and are committed to trying and get the
kids to do things together.”