Webster Scout’s project helps Catholic communities connect - Catholic Courier
A Boy Scout poses in front of an altar.

Nick Gallina poses for a photo in Rochester’s St. Monica Church, one of several parishes that benefited from his recent Eagle Scout project. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Webster Scout’s project helps Catholic communities connect

WEBSTER — While Holy Trinity Parish has been Nick Gallina’s spiritual home for 16 years, the teen has become quite comfortable over the past 12 months worshipping with several other Catholic communities in the Diocese of Rochester.

He remains an active member of the Webster parish, but also has been welcomed by members of the Polish community at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Rochester, the migrant farmworker community at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Marion and the deaf community at Rochester’s Emmanuel Church of the Deaf.

Nick hopes the path that led him to those three communities will culminate this fall in his achievement of the Eagle Scout rank. Along the way, he also gained newfound appreciation for the diversity that exists among Catholics.

“It really opened up my eyes to how many diverse groups are actually … around Rochester,” said Nick, who has been in Scouts since he was 5.

Scout’s project highlights diverse Catholic communities within Diocese of Rochester

Nick decided he wanted his Eagle Scout project to highlight that diversity. And since Catholic dioceses of the United States are in the midst of a three-year National Eucharistic Revival, he decided he also wanted to highlight the Eucharist, which unites all Catholics.

Nick, 16, planned an ambitious three-year project, during which he will get to know various communities within the larger Catholic community. Last year, he focused on cultural communities, and next year he will focus on communities of men and women who have dedicated their lives to God, such as women religious, priests and monks. The focus of the third year is still in flux, said Nick, who is about to start his junior year at McQuaid Jesuit High School.

Nick spent months visiting the three cultural communities and building relationships with their members. During his visits, Nick recognized that he was a minority in those communities and gained a newfound appreciation for what minority groups experience daily.

This realization was particularly obvious during Nick’s visits to the Emmanuel Church of the Deaf, which is based at St. Monica Church in Rochester. The community’s Masses are offered in American Sign Language with a voice interpreter for hearing guests, and at times it was difficult for Nick to follow along and participate.

“In that Mass, I become, quote- unquote, the minority in their population, then we can experience how they feel going to a listening Mass,” Nick said.

Visitors learn and experience Mass and celebrations at Catholic communities

After getting to know members of the Polish, deaf and migrant communities, Nick sent letters to the faith-formation directors and youth ministers at all diocesan parishes. He asked them to invite Catholic families to accompany him to Masses and special events at those communities on specific days.

He invited families to visit Our Lady of Guadalupe on Feb. 5 for the migrant community’s celebration of the dressing of the Christ child, which takes place each year on or near the feast of Jesus’ presentation in the Temple. And he invited families to visit St. Stanislaus for the traditional Polish blessing of Easter food.

Nick’s visit to Emmanuel Church of the Deaf with his guests did not take place on a culturally significant date. Instead of a celebration, the congregation invited Nick and his visitors to participate in a question-and-answer session.

“(Hearing) people could ask the deaf people questions about anything they wanted to know. The deaf people also taught the (hearing) people some etiquette, like talk to the person, not the interpreter and … at the end they all shared their experience of being deaf,” Nick said.

The Eucharist is central in each of the communities, regardless of their differences

These experiences were valuable for visitors and communities alike, he said. They provided the cultural communities with an opportunity to share their unique traits, and allowed visitors to experience the richness of those communities.

Nick said he hoped these experiences might be particularly beneficial to families involved in Boy Scouts, whom he especially encouraged to participate. Scouts need to tell their leaders how they have done their duty to God in order to move from one rank to the next, and Nick said he hoped Scouts would be able to talk about what they learned about other Catholic communities.

He also hoped everyone who participated in the visits learned that all Catholic communities are united through the Eucharist.

“Even in various diverse communities, it’s still central,” he said. “For the people who did go, it was a big eye-opener.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Profiles in Faith” highlights Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester of all ages and walks of life who are role models for living the faith. To suggest someone to profile, email Newsroom@CatholicCourier.com.

Tags: Monroe County East, Profiles in Faith
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