Hunting for eggs adds to Easter Sunday joy in Matawan
Passersby driving along Frenau Avenue in Matawan on Easter Sunday witnessed exuberant children scurrying about and scooping up Easter eggs from the front lawn of St. Clement Parish.
Youth ministry members organized the event, inviting parishioners of all ages – parents, grandparents and children -- to festivities held outside after the 11 a.m. Mass. With anticipatory glee, children formed a straight starting line, awaiting the arrival of Father Thomas Vala, pastor, who offered words of welcome, and prayers of thanksgiving for the weather and the opportunity to gather and share fellowship on Easter Sunday.
Leading up to the Easter egg hunt, 15 teens readied the prizes, filling hundreds of plastic eggs with stickers, religious-themed items, and novelty toys. Some teens also supervised the egg hunt and Knights of Columbus members made sure the grounds were secured. One senior teen doubled as the Easter bunny, donning oversized ears and costume, and posing for pictures.
For some of the littlest children it was their first introduction to the Easter bunny tradition. Following the “bring your own basket” instructions, they darted towards the colorful field of eggs on the “5-4-3-2-1” countdown to choose one of each distinctly colored egg and fill their baskets.
The egg hunt was a tradition for many years at St. Clement and had just enjoyed a resurgence prior to a COVID-induced pause. Now, with a desire to bring back a simple and fun event for everyone, St. Clement used the occasion to foster fellowship and a sense of community.
Tom Sweeney, parish catechetical leader, commended members of the youth ministry for their engagement, not just for the Easter Egg hunt, but during Holy Week, including Palm Sunday and Good Friday evening’s living Stations of the Cross. He related that for parishioners, “it was encouraging to see so many young people.”
Ellen Vaccaro, a parishioner for more than 20 years and a youth ministry volunteer, observed that the Easter Egg hunt brought everyone together: “It was nice to see people and families relaxed, talking with each other. It is good to get everyone together. The kids from our parish primarily attend school in three districts (Matawan, Marlborough, and Old Bridge), and we also have kids from Hazlet and Manalapan. It is nice now to have activities where they can be all together.”
Having been committed to youth ministry for many years, she added, “The teens want to give back. This is their favorite week.”
St. Clement’s Easter egg hunt, nearly 100 people strong, spanned babies to super seniors. As Sweeney joked, “Everyone is a kid at heart.”