MOUNT CARMEL – After surviving the frenzied pace of final exams and term papers at the end of the semester, college students typically like to wind down over the holidays by sleeping late, enjoying the comforts of home and reconnecting with family and friends.
For 10 non-consecutive days, beginning in mid-December and ending in mid-January, 13 students from the Mount Carmel-Kulpmont area followed a different routine by getting up early, attending morning Mass at Divine Redeemer Church and spending much of their time helping others.
Thirteen college students from four Catholic parishes in the Mount Carmel-Kulpmont area participated in the second annual winter service program sponsored by the Mother Maria Kaupas Center. From left are, front row, Emily Padula, Angelina Duda, Catherine Fletcher, Sydney Casey, Heather Bolick and Bryce Fiamoncini; back row, Dylan Fiamoncini, Michael Fletcher, Tyler Thompson, Zach Wasilewski and Father Martin Moran. Also participating in the program were Elizabeth Cooper, Magdalena Callahan and Lee Amarose.
The students were participants in the second annual winter service program sponsored by the Mother Maria Kaupas Center. The Center, whose primary mission is to encourage young people to live lives of leadership and service in their Church and community, challenges the students to look at the world around them and resolve to work to make things better.
To qualify for the winter service program, a student has to be a member of one of the four Catholic parishes in the area – Divine Redeemer, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and SS Peter and Paul in Mount Carmel or Holy Angels in Kulpmont. The 13 students this year had to complete an application, write an essay about why they wanted to perform community service, and receive approval from their pastor.
Participating in the program were: Lee Amarose, Heather Bolick, Angelina Duda, Dylan Fiamoncini and Zach Wasilewski, Divine Redeemer; Elizabeth Cooper, Catherine Fletcher, David Fletcher, Emily Padula and Tyler Thompson, Holy Angels; Magdalena Callahan, Church of Our Lady, and Sydney Casey and Bryce Fiamoncini, Saints Peter and Paul.
Seven of the 13 – Amarose, Bolick, Duda, Wasilewski, Callahan, Casey and Bryce Fiamoncini – were also involved in the first winter program in 2015-16.
Nine colleges and universities were represented among the student participants: Lebanon Valley (Amarose); Shippensburg (Bolick), Mansfield (Calllahan), Bloomsburg (Casey, Bryce Fiamoncini, Thompson and Wasilewski), Susquehanna (Cooper), Penn State (Dylan Fiamoncini), Lehigh (Catherine and David Fletcher), Kutztown (Padula) and Lock Haven (Duda)
“This was really a great group of students,” said the Rev. Martin Moran, pastor of Divine Redeemer Church and the founder of the Kaupas Center. “They did everything we asked of them, worked well together and were unselfish in their commitment to helping people.”
The college students worked at the Mount Carmel Area Food Pantry, painted the public meeting room at the Mount Carmel Township Municipal Building and stairwells at the Kaupas Center, made homemade chicken soup and then delivered it to senior citizens and visited Mount Carmel Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Serenity Gardens to sing Christmas carols with residents.
The students also worked from two to four days in their respective parishes. Their pastors were all very supportive of the program.
“This year, two students from our parish joined with students from other local parishes, to share faith, friendship and service. We were honored to provide lunch for the students one afternoon and to welcome them into our community in a very special way,” said Rev. Michael Hutsko, pastor of SS Peter and Paul; Ukrainian Catholic Church. “The participants from this parish provided invaluable service liturgically, by fully planning and participating in the very special services prescribed for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, New Year’s Day and the Feast of the Theophany. They accompanied me on home visitations and the traditional house blessing. They visited the homebound and those confined to assisted living facilities bringing Christmas cheer to the suffering. The Kaupas Center has become a true resource center for all facets of ministry to church and community. The vision of Father Moran and Jake Betz’s leadership has helped bring the message of God’s love and mercy to the larger Mount Carmel/Kulpmont communities. “
“It was good for our students from Holy Angels to have the opportunity to serve others,” remarked the Rev. Andrew Stahmer. “By visiting and demonstrating love and friendship for people in their hometown and by working to make the community and the parish better, they are living as Jesus wants all of us to live.”
“The winter service program for college students is a great way to get the students more deeply involved in their parish and community during their winter break, and their service is a practical help that is much appreciated,” said the Rev. Frank Karwacki, pastor of Church of Our Lady.
Students are volunteers, not employees, but in appreciation of their service, the Kaupas Center provides each with a $300 stipend to provide some small assistance in pursuing their college education. Last year, the Center was fortunate to have a grant to support these stipends, but that grant was not renewable this year.
The Kaupas Center paid these stipends through available funds and also had help from the parishes. “We are appreciative to Father Stahmer, Father Hutsko and Father Karwacki for their support,” said Betz, Mother Maria Kaupas Center director. “Most importantly, we thank them for encouraging students from their parishes to apply for the program.”