Ryan Maher had no trouble deciding what to do for his Eagle Scout project – he knew he wanted to do something for his parish and he knew it needed new Stations of the Cross.
Maher, who moved to Manahawkin six years ago with his family, has been a member at St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, since then.
“They have always been so kind to us,” he said of his parish. “My religion has always been a large part of my life.”
Maher, 16, a junior at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, started serving as an altar boy about six years ago. When he was 14, Bishop Emeritus John M. Smith read Maher’s letter at Confirmation about why Maher wanted to be confirmed.
“To sit up on the altar and look out into the crowd and see the people and the look they have on their faces and especially in their eyes, it is inspiring to say the least,” Maher wrote in the letter. “It truly gives me the feeling that Jesus is in the room with us and forgiving our sins in person.”
As a Scout, Maher could have chosen to do anything beneficial to the community for his Eagle Scout project. Recently, St. Mary Parish built a second church, St. Mary of the Pines in Manahawkin, and parish center about a mile from the old one. At the old church, another Scout had built stations with nine-foot-tall crosses.
Msgr. Ken Tuzeneu, pastor of St. Mary, wanted to transfer the plaques on the crosses from the old church to the new. Maher took the plaques, refurbished them and placed them on new crosses.
“They look so much better on the new shorter crosses than they did on those old, weathered, nine-foot-crosses,” said Maher’s father, Ed Maher.
“It’s a place for (parishioners) to go and pray during Lent, or really any time they feel they need to pray,” added Ryan Maher.
The 14 new crosses are four feet tall and 30 inches wide, stretching out on a corner of the parking lot at St. Mary.
The project was started in October 2010 and completed April 2011. All the final signatures needed for the Boy Scouts were received last month. The dedication of the stations by Msgr. Tuzeneu took place April 3 – just in time for Lent.
Maher’s Boy Scout Troop 61 from Manahawkin helped him a great deal in building the Stations.
“Doing a project for the church was his dream and the only option he wanted to pursue,” Ed Maher said.
That dedication to his faith is something Maher learned from his parents, who set an example for him through their own strong faith life.
“He sees us living our faith so he does the same thing,” said his mother, Andrea Maher. “He will approach us and say this is what happened and this is the way I believe I should approach the situation. His faith helps him get through troubled times.”
“I look forward to becoming a soldier of Christ and continuing [[In-content Ad]]
the work the Lord has in store for me,” Maher wrote in the letter read by Bishop Smith. “He has given me so much in my young life; I will work hard on giving back as much as I can.”