Sacred Heart Mini Vinnies share element of friendship on Purple Passion Day
By Georgiana Francisco | Correspondent
For the sixth year, students in Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly, participated in a Lenten event called Purple Passion Day retreat which is designed to engage students in a day of service through prayer, song and activities that will help them refocus on their Lenten promises.
PHOTO GALLERY: Purple Passion Day in Sacred Heart School, Mt. Holly
Purple Passion Day is an annual event that is created and run by the “Mini Vinnies,” the school’s St. Vincent de Paul Society that is geared for students.
“While the St. Vincent de Paul Society does a lot of outreach to the community, this is the event when they focus completely on the school community,” said Kathryn Besheer, school principal. “Purple Passion Day is strategically placed half way through Lent and is student-led, so that students are leading other students to Jesus. It’s very special to the younger ones when older students talk and work with them. In turn, we see the older students becoming beautiful mentors.”
After an opening prayer led by eighth grader and event chairperson Jenna Lozano, the March 20 Purple Passion Day commenced with students, who were sitting at tables lined across the auditorium, being given materials to make a variety of Lenten-themed paper crosses, wooden crosses with jewels, head bands that read, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” finger puppets and more, with the upper grade students helping the younger grades.
Marge McGinley, who is currently a chaplain in Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly, the St. Vincent de Paul national chairperson of spiritualty and formation and spiritual advisor to the Mini Vinnie’s, said that “friendship” was chosen as this year's theme “because in the St. Vincent de Paul Society, there are three essential elements: service, spirituality, and friendship.
“Today we are sharing one essential element through Scripture, arts and crafts and discussion, so that the children experience not only the spirituality of Lent, but also of the Mini Vinnies.” MgGinley noted the Mini Vinnies originated in Sacred Heart School, but the concept has expanded nationally with other schools forming similar groups.
“The Mini Vinnies is a program designed for primary school students interested in helping the less fortunate and introduces children to the works of the St Vincent de Paul Society and to living faith through action,” said Diane Hoffman-Huth, a Purple Passion Day organizer and fifth grade teacher. “Students begin in fifth grade and go on through eighth grade, getting together every other week. We are lucky that they have the interest, especially with so many other activities in which they involved. Today it’s a joy to see them getting to know each other better in the spirit of friendship.”
Sacred Heart Parish pastor Father John Czahur smiled broadly as he took in the joyous atmosphere saying, “Sacred Heart has always had a wonderful Vincentian ministry with so many volunteers.
“Through Marge and the faculty, there has always been a new generation to learn more about Lent and about the St. Vincent de Paul Society. You can see by the spirit here that they are not only taking in this wonderful event, but also have the spirit of reaching out. We’re very proud of all of them,” said Father Czahur.
Fourth grader Amanda Romano thought the event was special because, she said, “We should come together as a school to pray and play together because it helps us to be more open to God.”
Ciara D’Encremont, a seventh grade student, said Lent “is a time for thanking Jesus because he suffered for us. So often people just think about themselves, but this is a time when we can think about how Jesus has helped us and how much we can thank him through prayer.”
“Today we’re learning about friendship and we’ll incorporate this theme throughout the rest of the year,” said seventh grader Isabella Gregory. “I’ve made some new friends today and I got to talk to more students than I normally do!”