Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 18, 2009
Holy Childhood gifts benefit youngsters in need
Edmonton Archdiocese tops the list in donations to fund slum areas, orphanages, street havens, schools
WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Dan Friedt leads St. Charles School Grade 6 choir in the gathering song, Hearts on Fire
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON – Eucharistic liturgy, songs, an offertory, and a celebration of children helping children highlighted the annual Holy Childhood Association Mass.
In the year 1843, Holy Childhood Association, a Roman Catholic mission organization, was founded in France for children to help children. The founder, Bishop Charles de Forbin Janson, asked children to say a short prayer each day and give a penny a month for suffering children.
Today, across Canada, thousands of Catholic schoolchildren are living up to this commitment.
The Holy Childhood Association is active in elementary and junior high schools throughout the Edmonton Archdiocese, Canada’s greatest contributor to the cause.
Most of the fundraising takes place during Lent in preparation for Mission Day held every year on the first Wednesday in May. This year’s celebration was May 6 at St. Charles Church.
“This is the 11th year of gathering and today across the world students in more than 130 countries are participating in similar celebrations,” said Joan Carr, superintendent of Edmonton Catholic Schools.
BE AN INSPIRATION
“May today give us all inspiration to help children in need around the world, and may it also be an inspiration to continue doing good deeds for many children everywhere,” she told the 1,000 students and staff.
Many young people from the schools shared their gifts of music and word as they served the various ministries in Mass.
Students from schools participating in the celebration were from Edmonton Catholic Schools, Elk Island, Evergreen and Greater St. Albert Catholic regional school divisions.
Archbishop Richard Smith, celebrating the Mass, spoke of virtual ways in which people interact. He cited Facebook, Twitter and text messaging as common examples. Networking sites help us connect and stay in touch, but in an indirect way, he said.
“When you give of yourself and you give these financial gifts and help others, you are connecting, but you are connecting in a far more important and a far deeper way than through Facebook and all these other personal ways in which you connect.
“You are connecting with the gift of yourself. You are making yourself, your love, your life present to others and making a big difference.”
Once the students realize the sorry conditions faced by two-thirds of the people in the world, they are eager to share and they give generously. Their gift goes to children in nursery schools, orphanages, slum areas, street havens, hospitals, refugee camps and handicapped centres.
“Mostly it shows how much we care for people and children around the world, and how much we contribute to helping them,” said Jan Kate Fornelos, a Grade 9 student at St. Clement School.
Her school in Mill Woods has been fundraising for two foster children in the Philippines. Their money provides food, medicine, clean water, shelter and education.
“It shows that we care and not only for our family and friends, but also for strangers across the oceans,” said Alex Ronaldson, also a Grade 9 student at St. Clement.
FR. MICHAEL TROY
After the Mass, several students approached Spiritan Father Michael Troy, 91. He has been a strong advocate of Holy Childhood for several years.
Troy and the Mission Council always welcome invitations for school visits at any time during the school year. He hails from Ireland, and said Holy Childhood is very active in the schools there, and he is pleased to see the same enthusiasm here.
“Edmonton last year was number one in the country. They even surpassed Calgary for the first time. Between Calgary and Edmonton together, we do more for the Holy Childhood than all of the rest of Canada together.
“It’s unbelievable but it’s true,” said Troy.
However, even if they never collected a penny, the education about the dire situation children face elsewhere is worth the effort, said Troy.
Participation in the initiative brings students closer to God, counters selfishness and teaches them to pray in a personal way. The teachers benefit spiritually as they endeavour to stimulate the faith and devotion of the students.