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(Sparkill, NY) May 8, 2014 – The Dominican Sisters of Sparkill hosted their first ever youth event at the Dominican Convent on Sunday, April 27. The gathering, titled “Catch the Fire” Youth Day, welcomed nearly 50 seventh and eighth grade children from local parishes in the Rockland County area for an afternoon of conversation, celebration, and mission. Realizing that most young children today—even those attending Catholic schools— do not have many opportunities to meet or spend time with Sisters, the Sparkill Dominicans sought to welcome children from their community in this way. Sr. Margaret Palliser, OP, who led the committee that organized the event, commented, “We wanted to create an atmosphere where the children could interact informally with the Sisters, asking whatever questions they wanted. We were very excited because their conversations revealed that the children were indeed very curious about who Sisters are, what they do, and why they choose to become Sisters.”


The day featured interactive games between the children and the many Sisters who attended, such as an information scavenger hunt, along with lively dialogue and presentations. Ten dynamic student volunteers from Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia, NY, helped organize the activities and engaged with participants throughout the afternoon. “It was a wonderful experience for the children and our Sisters alike to spend time with members of a different generation, discussing the topics of religious life, faith, and discipleship,” said Sr. Mary Murray, OP, President of the Congregation. “The various activities were fun as well as informative, which made the day flow very smoothly.” Entertainment and a special concert were provided by musical guest Full Armor Band, a New York-based Catholic rock group. The band brought a high energy level to the gathering and taught the crowd their original song “Lead Me to the Light,” which became the theme song for the day. The day culminated in the historic Sacred Heart Chapel with a Mass celebrated by Msgr. Emmet R. Nevin, Vicar of Rockland County. It was a joyous occasion as the group also celebrated another important event of the day: the canonizations of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II.


The Catch the Fire Youth Day was one of a series of events planned this year to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Sacred Heart Chapel. As the spiritual home to the Sisters and children who lived at the Sparkill property when it was St. Agnes Convent and Home, this beautiful chapel has been a foundation in the lives of over 1,100 Dominican Sisters and thousands of children throughout the years. “When we were deciding how we would celebrate the 100th anniversary of our Chapel,” added Sr. Margaret, “we felt it was important to have an event that would reach out to the youth of Rockland County as a way to honor its history.” Sr. Bridget Kiniry, OP, also on the event committee, noted, “There was a family sitting behind me at the Mass: a mother, father, and three children. The parents were both graduates of Albertus Magnus High School and said they felt so ‘at home.’ With tears in her eyes the mother said to me, ‘Oh, Sister, we all need this.’ All in attendance agreed the youth event was a beautiful day and a wonderful extension of the focus on children that has been such a strong part of the Sparkill Dominicans’ history.

Emma Giardina of St. Paul’s School in Valley Cottage, NY and Sr. Bridget Kiniry enjoying the music of Full Armor Band.


Media Notes:

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