Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 17, 1999
Children helping children
Students gather to celebrate Holy Childhood's missionary work
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Instead of having her weekly chocolate fix, Marina Anderson, 9, surrendered part of her allowance to the Holy Childhood Association.
As she was sitting with her classmates in the back pew at St. John the Evangelist Church minutes prior to the Holy Childhood Mass, she was feeling tongue-tied when asked what the celebration was for.
She shrugged her shoulders and smiled.
"We have this project in school. Instead of spending our money on snacks you give it to kids in poor countries," said the Grade 4 student from Good Shepherd Elementary School.
That project at Marina's school was the focus of the May 5 Holy Childhood Mission Day Mass celebrated by Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, and Fathers Stephen Wojcichowsky, Len Gartner, Bob O'Connell and Michael Troy.
More than 500 students from 13 schools, from as far as Drayton Valley, attended.
"The children were the most important thing here," said Troy, director of the archdiocese's Holy Childhood
"You hear about bad things going on in the schools, children hurting each other. The message we're getting is that there's a lot of bad publicity in the schools and for our children.
"This shows that our children are making a difference. We're all children of God, wherever we are."
The Holy Childhood Association has existed worldwide for more than 100 years, but has only begun making a presence in Canada in the past decade, said Troy.
The Mass is celebrated throughout the world on the first Wednesday of May. This is the first time it has been celebrated in the archdiocese.
Money contributed to Holy Childhood this year is sent to children's missions in Ethiopia, Sudan, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Peru, Nigeria, Cameroon and Vietnam.
"The money is exclusively for children," Troy said. "It specifically goes towards projects for children in these countries."
Students from the 13 schools that attended the Mass contributed more than $8,000. Dozens of schools in the archdiocese are involved in the program.
"We usually do this during Lent," said Ed Hecker, a teacher at Good Shepherd Elementary. "Holy Childhood emphasized three things students can do to help children in other countries. They can pray, make sacrifices or help financially."
Troy said the idea of children helping children incites a higher interest for students to get involved.
The concept of students helping their less fortunate peers is more encouraging than if the money was targeted for an entire village or for projects "that the students could not relate to," Troy said.
"These kids are learning when they're young to do simple things for others. They will grow up knowing that it doesn't take much to help others. They're going to grow up to help others around them.
"They'll find that doing good feels good, and it's a lot of fun."