Sixteen members of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church’s 2019 confirmation class spent an afternoon with the residents of PearTree House Assisted Living Facility in Pasadena on December 9 as part of their confirmation preparation.
“I can vividly remember Christmas parties at a nursing home where I volunteered through my parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society,” said Judy Tacyn, confirmation coordinator at St. John the Evangelist Church. “When I saw the Pasadena Voice’s posting for the PearTree Assisted Living Facility in September, those wonderful memories came flooding back and I knew we could come up with a great service project for the kids.”
Each of the 13 PearTree residents were paired with a teen who brought gifts, fruit, sweets and a handmade Christmas card for their resident. The teens decorated their resident’s bedroom door with festive decor and got to know them better. The residents were thrilled to have someone to talk to or to watch the Ravens game with. Some of the residents enjoyed playing bingo with the St. John’s teens. After an ice cream sundae social, Bob Cohn, a member of St. John’s exalt choir, lead the group in caroling around the Christmas tree.
“As part of the confirmation preparation with our youth, we try to instill in them that they have been blessed with so many wonderful gifts that they can share through service,” Tacyn said. “I hope that by seeing the residents’ faces light up through simple conversations, in a shared love of football, through a kind gesture or a shared laugh, the Holy Spirit inspires them to really change someone’s day. Kindness, love and respect have such strong ripple effects, and they can be the conduit.”
Anna McAllister, a freshman at Severna Park High School, learned firsthand about the importance of helping someone in her community. “I really enjoyed spending the day with these wonderful people and learning about their lives,” she said. “I hope to do it again.”
Archbishop Spalding freshman Lauren Niccolini called enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the residents and learn their stories. “I met someone who was in the Navy during World War II, and someone from the Yankees,” Niccolini said. “I know I’ll never forget them.”
Peter Monaco, a freshman at Mount St. Joseph High School, was paired with Charlie, a sports fan who enjoyed having a group of like-minded athletes with whom to watch the Ravens game.
“It was really nice to be able to bring joy to these elderly people during this holiday season,” Monaco said. “Many of them are alone and it was really nice to give them some company today. I really liked hearing their stories.”
Joyce Aiello, whose son Logan was in the St. John’s group, helped chaperone the event.
“This nursing home experience was amazing for the kids. It showed them a side of life they may not have gotten to see before,” said Joyce. “The residents were so touched that the kids were there. The kids got to experience kindness, patience and some understanding of the elderly. Everyone got to experience something special today.”
After the final Christmas carol was sung, one resident, Maryanne, called the teens to attention. “I just want you all to know how much we appreciate you coming to visit us today. We really enjoyed it,” she said. “You can come back anytime.”
The group included Arianna Camper (Archbishop Spalding); Bridget Donovan (Archbishop Spalding); Marian Guloy (Severna Park High); Logan Aiello (Calvert Hall College High School); Anna McCallister (Severna Park High); Lauren Niccolini (Archbishop Spalding); Kyle Garrett (Archbishop Spalding); Cassidy Weeks (Severna Park High); Kylee Emrich (Severna Park High); Keenan Kopf (Chesapeake High); Sydney Meilstrup (Severna Park High); Chloe Dardick (Severna Park High); Sydney Bear (Severna Park High); Ronan Byrne (Severna Park High); Eddie Sullivan (Severna Park High); and Peter Monaco (Mount St. Joseph).
Eighty youths will receive the sacrament of confirmation at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on Saturday, January 12. The sacrament will be conferred by the Rev. Adam J. Parker, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, who is Severna Park native and graduate of Severna Park High School.