One hundred twenty-nine Saint Elizabeth young people received the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, April 24.  Bishop Edward Deliman presided at the 10:00 AM Confirmation Mass, while our pastor, Father Thomas Mullin, celebrated the 1:00 PM Confirmation Mass.

Candidates for Confirmation began their journey of Christian initiation with their parents’ decision to present them for Baptism and they have been getting ready for this special time since their First Holy Communions. Formal preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation takes place in grades 6 and 7.

Four of those who are preparing displayed impressive maturity as they reflected on the importance of their decision to become responsible members of the Catholic Church and how it impacts their faith journeys.

Grace Kroboth – Grade 7: “Receiving Confirmation this spring won’t change the way I think about being a Catholic, but more of how I feel as a Catholic.  It will make me prouder of my faith.  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are going to be very important throughout high school, college and the rest of my life.  There are a lot of difficult decisions that come with getting older and these gifts will help me to know and choose right from wrong”.  Her parents, Eileen and Tony Kroboth, commented, “We are so proud of Grace for her diligence in learning about her faith. To us, her Confirmation means that she is ready for whatever may come next on her journey, ready to move forward in faith.”

 

Zach Slade – Grade 7: “I didn’t really know how special Confirmation is and preparing to receive the sacrament this year has made me into a better person and Catholic.  It gives me a goal to stay on this path for the rest of my life. This experience feels like promising God to be actively participating as a Catholic.  I’m excited to keep living my life growing in faith.” His mother, Yesenia, added, “Confirmation is a very important stepping-stone in my son’s Catholic life.”

 

Chase Voigt – Grade 6: “When I receive the Sacrament of Confirmation next year, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit will help me live like a Christian in this complicated world. I will be better able to understand my role in God’s family and become a more active participant in my faith.”  His mother, Nicole, said, “As parents, we chose to raise our children in the Catholic faith.  As candidates for Confirmation, they are choosing to remain and continue in that faith. We are both proud and blessed that our children value Catholicism as we do.”

 

Monica Young – Grade 7: “Being a candidate for Confirmation this year means that I am prepared to take the next step in my journey and do what I can to continue growing in my faith. It will change the way I think about being a Catholic by giving me the courage and strength to live out my faith in the world.” Her mother, Kathleen, said, “It is the end of Monica’s Elementary Faith Formation instruction, but just the beginning of her being an active and practicing member of the Saint Elizabeth community. I hope that Monica will continue to use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to care for the people around her and be a strong witness of Jesus.”

Young people like these in our parish family give us hope for the future. May God bless them, their parents and sponsors and all who were confirmed during the Easter Season.

  • Lisa Sheronas

The Saint Elizabeth family now has two new members on the parish staff. Eve Hill and Kathleen Brady are working together to support essential and effective communications for the church and the parish school. Although they each focus on a unique part of the parish operations (church and school), you will find them sharing ideas and even an office in the Saint Elizabeth Education Center. Eve is on site on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and Kathleen is present on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Eve Hill, Parish Communications Coordinator, supports all of the promotion and awareness initiatives for the various ministries and organizations at Saint Elizabeth. She maintains the parish website, updates the social media accounts and creates the Parish Digest (electronic bulletin) each week. She also manages the scheduling and training of the volunteers who operate the video system in church. You may even find her behind a camera during a live-stream broadcast.

Eve came to our parish from St. Maximillian Kolbe in West Chester where she worked in the Religious Education office. Previously she was a floral designer and worked in computer support. Eve said, “I use my organization skills, technology background and creative nature every day. The combination of my previous three positions have prepared me well for this one! ”

Eve and her husband, Kevin were married at Saint Joseph Church in Downingtown in March, 2002. They have two children, Moira (17) and Owen (12).  Eve concludes, “I’m excited to be working at such an amazing and vibrant parish.”

Kathleen Brady, Coordinator of Communications and Advancement for Saint Elizabeth Parish School, supports all of the promotion and awareness initiatives for Saint Elizabeth Parish School. She also maintains the school website and social media accounts. Kathleen takes a lead role with Saint Elizabeth Parish School media relations and creates the school Weekly Communications Digest.

Most recently, Kathleen was working at home, raising her daughter and doing free-lance design, calligraphy and photography. She earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Communications from Cabrini University, and previously worked full time in Catholic education development, rebranding, marketing and fundraising. “I am passionate about Catholic Education. Aside from its reputation for academic excellence, Catholic education instills strong spiritual and moral values today, ensuring a principled society, and our congregation of tomorrow,” explains Kathleen. “I hope this fervor matched with my experience in development, photography, design, and writing helps to tell the story of the children attending our parish school, while portraying the many innovations in the classroom, projects and success stories we have to share.”

Kathleen has been parishioner at Saint Elizabeth for 6 years and her daughter, Ciara, attends Kindergarten at the parish school.

Communication nurtures community, so we are fortunate and are sure to benefit as a parish family from the enthusiastic work of our communications team. Be sure to check out our website as these two communications professionals keep us informed about everything that is happening at our parish and parish school.

  • Elisa Sheronas

One Sunday, Paul Hannagan attended Mass at Saint Elizabeth with his family and when his wife and daughter stepped out of the pew to receive Holy Communion, he had a lightbulb moment. “I asked myself, why am I not joining my family for the most important part of the Mass?” He continues, “That led me to reach out when RCIA classes started and to begin my journey to the Catholic Faith.”

Paul joined the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program (RCIA) in September 2020. He will be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church with the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at this year’s Easter Vigil Mass.

Paul lived and grew up in the United Kingdom and was baptized in the Church of England. “Growing up in England, all schools had a short church service called ‘Assembly’ to start the day,” Paul explained. “I attended a Church of England school for the equivalent of middle and high school. Since it was a church school, we had more religious education than most and attended full church services each week during Lent.”

Paul met his wife Maggie while attending a wedding in the small village of Belmullet, Ireland. Maggie was visiting the village with her father, tracing their family history. “I tell people I’m a souvenir from Maggie’s trip to Europe!” he said. After Paul and Maggie were married in 1986, he moved to the United States. Their family have been parishioners of Saint Elizabeth Parish since our founding in 2000.  

Paul says, “The best part of the RCIA program is learning about Catholicism from the Catholic perspective. So much of Catholic teaching is misunderstood by non-Catholics. For example, I found learning about the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be very interesting and inspiring. My non-Catholic perspective was that it is a sacrament about punishing the sinful and in reality I’ve come to realize it is a joyful sacrament to bring us closer to God.”

When someone is interested in pursuing the Catholic Faith, the first step is to have an informal meeting with Deacon Kevin Mead, who coordinates the RCIA program for the parish. Kevin explains, “It helps to gain an understanding of someone’s religious background and experiences. Some individuals have been active members of another faith community, and others may have little or no religious identity.”

After the initial inquiry and discussion individuals may decide to attend weekly sessions, currently held on Monday evenings, from September through the Easter Season. Those who have been baptized in another Christian faith community, as Paul was, will receive Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist to complete the Sacraments of Initiation.  Those not previously baptized receive all three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil Mass.

We asked Deacon Kevin what happens when someone is interested in the Catholic Faith but are not quite ready to take the next step to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter. He responded, “Everyone is welcome to come learn what it means to be Catholic. The RCIA program includes discussions about what the Catholic Church teaches, what Catholics believe, and what it means to live out our Catholic Faith. It is not a requirement that all participants become Catholic. Everyone is there for a reason and hopefully those who attend will gain a deeper understanding of God’s individual call to them.” He concluded, “When I first met Paul, I quickly sensed his recognition of the existence and importance of God in his life. He lives out the Catholic values of a strong family life and helping others. Our parish should be very proud to welcome him as a member of the Church at this year’s Easter Vigil.”

Anyone interested in learning about the RCIA program can e-mail Deacon Kevin at kmead@stelizabethparish.org, or call the Parish Ministry Center at 610-321-1200.

  • Sara Richardson

As Saint Elizabeth Parish School entered the new year, classroom dynamics still looked much different than in years past. However, the fundamental spirit of Catholic school education remains present, now more than ever.

“This is a time when people's spirits have actually been re-built,” noted Principal Dr. Diane Greco. “Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, what will never get lost in Catholic school education is our deep investment in community. All of us (parents, students and staff) have had to bond together and agree to the virus mitigation strategies in order to keep our school operational and to sustain our ability to educate and learn. As we have faced adversity together, that bond has grown stronger.”

This year, Catholic Schools Week was carried out in mid-February and included all the long-established activities like student appreciation day, faculty-staff appreciation day, student pizza bingo, a book fair and, unique this year,  a virtual open house tour. Under the leadership of the National Junior Honor Society and the Student Council, students carried out the customary service component by collecting donated items and making blessing bags, which were distributed to local food pantries. While the format of this annual celebration was significantly changed, students were still able to engage in these time-honored pursuits under the theme: Catholic Schools: Faith, Excellence, Service.

“One of the reasons we celebrate this week publicly and invite families to visit our school each year is to remind people of the many reasons Catholic education matters,” said Dr. Greco. “It is a time to see how our faith connects to everything in life. The values of civic service, self-discipline and respect for others shine through in the opportunities we provide to our students. We teach them not simply to understand their religion, but to think for themselves, which is faith in action.”

“Educating the whole child is more important now than ever,” continued Dr. Greco. “We are still able to engage in the arts, physical education and balance faith in our daily lives. Because we have worked together, we have been able to keep going, remaining a springboard for many young lives.”

“This year may look a lot different, but all the important pillars of Catholic school education remain in place,” she added. “In fact, because we are such a strong, deeply-invested community, we have been able to work together to give our students everything they needed to continue their education effectively. As a school, we have bonded significantly. The pandemic has helped us to see all the positive things we have. The students are truly happy to be here. They feel safe and cared for, and as a result, their cooperation and level of responsibility have grown. The staff has had to adjust to changing times, so we have grown as well. We have faced these difficult times together, and everyone has risen to the challenge with a great new sense of camaraderie.”

  • Julia Krumenacker

Family Life during a Pandemic

It is hard to believe that it was in March 2020 that life as usual began to change for many of our parish families. After a year of living with the Covid-19 restrictions placed on all of us, the Spirit Newsletter staff invited two families to reflect on the last year and their experiences. They have highlight the challenges many Saint Elizabeth parishioners have faced. Through the difficult months, these families found comfort in their faith, in prayer, and in the parish community.

The Hellgoth Family

Last spring, John and Marie Hellgoth were enjoying their first year as “empty nesters,” with their sons both away from home. Nineteen year old Chris was in his sophomore year at Georgia Tech, and Nick, 21, was finishing his senior year at Purdue University. When lockdowns began in March, Nick was studying abroad in Germany and the family had to figure out how to get him home amid changing travel restrictions. Chris moved out of his dorm room at school, leaving everything behind. Once settled at home, the whole family needed to find space to work and study remotely. Nick was fortunate to be able to continue his international studies online, but that meant he was up late at night working on “German time.”

While isolation from neighbors and friends was difficult for Marie and John, they found the unexpected time they had to share with Chris and Nick a positive result of life during a pandemic. Family dinners and long in-depth conversations without the distractions of sports, activities and commutes meant they learned about one another in a way that hadn’t been possible when the family was busy running from one activity to another during the boys’ high school years. Marie reflects that she and John aren’t sure how they maintained that pace for so many years; life seems simpler these days.

The time they would have spent commuting in the morning is spent exercising, meditating and praying. Though Marie says she struggles with the uncertainty around Coronavirus, finding more time to be prayerful has been a source of strength. She and John plan to prepare during Lent for the upcoming Easter season by taking advantage of at least one of the online Lenten programs found on the parish website.

The Howard and Cindrich Family

For the Howard and Cindrich family, the isolation caused by the Coronavirus has challenged them in many ways. Joe and Georgann care for her parents, George and Dorothy, who are in their 90’s. Their daughter, Sarah, 27, also lives at home with them.

When Covid-19 closures began, Hannah, 24, returned home from her practicum at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, delaying her graduation and internships. Sarah’s job with Aramark at Exton Elementary closed in March, leading to the loss of her job and her routine. This was made more difficult by the additional loss of time with Special Olympics friends and Best Buddies activities.

Georgann and Joe faced additional struggles with medical issues throughout the year. When Dorothy needed to be hospitalized multiple times, the family was unable to visit her as she healed. In April, Joe’s mother died while hospitalized, and only his sister was able to be present. Compounding the grief was the inability to hold a funeral service due to the pandemic. Late in the year, the whole family tested positive for Covid-19 with the exception of Sarah. She was able to avoid exposure by quarantining away from the family; fortunately, everyone recovered with no lasting effects.

Georgann said, “Our Saint Elizabeth Parish family has been a source of comfort and support for all of us during this challenging year. Father Mullin was able to visit my mom during her hospital stay and update us while we were physically isolated from her.”  Daily prayer and healthy habits have helped keep Georgann ready to face the challenges of life during Coronavirus.

These stories are only two glimpses of the many ways the families of Saint Elizabeth Parish have confronted the changes Covid-19 has brought into our lives this year. May all of our families continue to find strength in their faith and may we continue to support each other in prayer throughout these pandemic times.

 - Elizabeth Kazanjian

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