By EmmaLee Italia | Contributing Editor
Families and members of the junior youth group in St. Anselm Parish, Wayside, took time to thank the parish’s veterans following Mass Nov. 4, hosting its first Veterans Day Luncheon for what they called their “true heroes.”
“It was fantastic how the generations came together,” said Fran Burke, parish youth ministry coordinator and religious education administrator. She said about 15 veterans attended.
Burke explained that the idea to bring together different generations of faith stemmed from a Parish Catechetical Leader Convocation held in October. Sponsored by the diocesan Department of Catechesis, the formation day focused on the role of family as teachers of the faith.
“I felt the kids being involved made it easier for parents to help, too,” Burke continued. “We saw a lot of family interaction.”
Parishioner Lisa Patterson, who contributed to the luncheon idea, said families helped make the event a success. “From donating their time to helping set up the room, to handing out poppies and patriotic pins, to providing delicious food donations – the community came together to make the luncheon a wonderful day for all.”
Patterson’s children, Sophia, second grade, and Aiden, kindergarten, were among those helping serve the meal.
Preparations began weeks ahead of time in the parish religious education classrooms, where children learned about the importance of Veterans Day and produced drawings and compositions to decorate the parish hall. Children also made stars, each of which had at its center a photo of a veteran, law enforcement or first responders.
“Depending on their age, the children were asked to either color a Veterans Day design and/or write about the veterans they know,” Patterson said. “We received a great response, and the veterans seemed happy to see and read all that the children created.”
Patterson’s grandfather Ed Manley, 95, was overjoyed to meet new people at the luncheon and to share his stories with other attendees, providing several World War II artifacts for them to view – including various Purple Heart medals, the replica of his Navy ship, and even a bullet that injured him while on duty.
Seventh-grader Declan Sales enjoyed serving lunch to thank the veterans for their service. “These veterans risked their lives for our country, and this was a small way to repay them.”
Caylee Zanga, also in seventh grade, said she believes it is important for families to be involved in the event because “family is what makes up a community.”
“One thing I learned from the veterans … was that many of them left their amazing lives to go and defend our country,” she said. “It is important to honor and thank those who serve in our military because … they risked their lives to defend our freedom.”
The sense of family and community in St. Anselm Parish is something parishioner Marc Savare and his family value most. He volunteered at the luncheon with his children – Caitlyn, third grade, and Reilly, first grade.
“The luncheon really taught the kids to honor those who have made sacrifices and defended our country and way of life,” said Savare, who works for the Veterans Administration Office. “Veterans deserve our utmost respect, and we were able to honor them by volunteering our time.”