Co-Cathedral ministries plan coffeehouse fundraiser for three sisters in face of tragedy
By Mary Morrell | Contributing Editor
Pope Francis has spoken often about the need for Christians to live out the Gospel values of love, mercy and compassion.
When someone is faced with a tragedy, a profound loss, or a crisis of some kind, we live these values by accompanying others on their journey, said Msgr. Sam Sirianni, rector, St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Sometimes the journey is a long one, he stressed.
“It’s important for people to know they are not forgotten. When faith communities are proactive, we let them know we’re thinking about them, especially by offering three things – prayer, acts of charity and care, and simply being present,” Msgr. Sirianni relayed.
On June 30, the youth ministry and music ministry of St. Robert’s will host “Beats for Bartone,” a coffeehouse showcasing a variety of talent and raising money for the three Bartone sisters, young parishioners who tragically lost both their parents this past February.
As a celebration of the arts in all forms, in addition to a fundraiser, parish artists who are also Youth Group-LIFT members were asked to donate a piece of their art to be raffled off to help the girls.
The event will be held in the parish hall from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Donations will be accepted with 100 percent of proceeds made available to the Bartone girls.
The dual ministry event, supported by so many youth and members of the faith community is significant, said Jeanne Marinello, youth ministry coordinator. “Alexa, Jenna and Camryn are sewn into the fabric of this parish. They are altar servers and Youth Group-LIFT team members. They all have given their time to make our parish shine. Their mom, Denise, gave countless hours to lead ministries and give her time as a member of committees that served our parish,” shared Marinello.
“The girls are part of our parish family. When a family member suffers tragedy or loss, family comes together to support them. I think it is especially important that the girls know they can count on their St. Robert’s parish family, especially during a time when their faith in family may have been shaken,” said Renee Weber, parish Praise Music Group director, assistant choral director and cantor.
Marinello and Weber relied on their experience from a previous coffeehouse benefit they planned for Danny Scerbo, a young parishioner and member of the youth group who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “That coffeehouse was called a ‘Day for Danny.’ It was a huge success, and showed us all that we can band together and be the strength and support that God teaches us to be,” said Marinello.
Danny, who is now in remission, is paying it forward by being a performer in the “Beats for Bartone” coffeehouse. The name has a special meaning, said Marinello: “Beats of music as well as the heart beats of all those who love and support the Bartone sisters.”
The support of a faith community “is huge for those who suffer crisis. They realize that they are never alone in what they go through and that there will always be a huge support system there for them. We all have shoulders for them to lean on, and ears to listen. Our faith teaches us to be there for one another. We are living by example and leading with faith,” said Marinello.
“There is no manual for this,” said Msgr. Sirianni, when it comes to supporting those in a crisis. But an important fruit of being present to others in their need is hope, he stressed.
“Many times when you hear of a tragedy you think to yourself, ‘What can I do?’ It is events such as ours that give a vehicle for that thought,” said Marinello. Simply making a dessert, performing a song, working behind the scenes – they all matter. “Our faith community is changed in the process because we see that when we band together we can accomplish great things. What is learned is how to support and comfort those in need – that is a skill and it is a skill that is learned by doing,” she stressed.
As importantly, said Weber, “Coming together as a faith community shows our young adults ... the importance of reaching out to those who suffer a tragedy or loss. Sometimes we are afraid to reach out. We don’t want to bombard the person, we may not know what to say, we may not know what to do. The important thing is to reach out anyway.”