The following article first appeared in The Catholic Sun,
Phoenix´s diocesan newspaper. Reprinted with permission.
Young missionaries dedicate Holy
Week to service, prayer
By Ambria Hammel | April 21,
2011 | The Catholic Sun
Two groups of largely local teenagers
and young adults are spending the remainder of Holy Week
carrying out as many of the spiritual and corporal works
of mercy as they can.
This year marks the biggest turnout
so far with about 40 girls and 42 guys —
all ages 14 to 20-something — serving those in need.
Some of them even took off from school and work
for the Holy Week Missions.
Their service work began this morning
when 15 girls sang while inmates lowered the caskets of
six unclaimed bodies at White Tanks Cemetery in Litchfield Park.
It’s a monthly ritual at the county cemetery.
“I felt really
honored to be a part of their life — being
there to pray for them as they go on their
journey,” said Grace Minton. The St. Maria Goretti parishioner turns
19 this weekend.
They stood at a small distance from the
burial singing hymns including “Amazing Grace,” “Be Not Afraid” and
Vanessa Hartz, a 24-year-old core member at St. Patrick
Parish in Scottsdale, chose the hymns. She found some lyrics
in “Above All” about dying rejected and alone particularly poignant
for the inmates and the victims.
Angie Hawkesworth, a lay consecrated
member of Regnum Christi, quickly connected their presence at the
burials to the events Catholics commemorate during Holy Week.
thought of Jesus,” she said. “[Being there today] gave them
the dignity they deserved.”
By lunchtime, the young women still remembered
the victims’ names as if they were longtime friends.
that they can be like Christ,” said Carrie O’Connor, also
a lay consecrated woman. “We wanted them to have that
experience of evangelizing and really serving.”
Phoenix Missions is an annual
outreach of Mission Youth, which is affiliated with the Regnum
Christi apostolic movement. Lay consecrated leaders coordinate different prayer and
service opportunities for the young men and women.
A second group
of girls served lunch to the homeless at St. Vincent
de Paul near the human services campus. Fourteen-year-old Catherine Whitfield,
a St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner, was surprised how many
people came through the lunch line.
The girls are staying at
Most Holy Trinity Parish and will join forces tomorrow with
the young men, who are staying at Our Lady of
Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek. The missionaries will pray at
Planned Parenthood in Glendale and attend Good Friday services at
Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.