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Altar Servers Make a Splash


The sixth annual Diocese of Gaylord Altar Server Appreciation Day was held Saturday, July 30. Approximately 400 altar servers and their chaperones gathered at St. Matthew Church in Boyne City for a Mass celebrated by Bishop Bernard Hebda which was followed by a picnic lunch and afternoon of fun at Avalanche Bay Water Park at Boyne Mountain. Sponsored by the Diocese of Gaylord and Knights of Columbus Councils, the day was planned by the Vocations Advisory Committee and members of St. Andrew Task Force. It is funded through donations from Knights of Columbus Councils throughout the diocese and gifts to the annual Catholic Services Appeal (CSA).

The annual event was established “as a result of discussions within the Vocations Advisory Committee about how we might recognize and affirm young people in their ministry to the church,” noted Fr. Don Geyman, Diocesan Director of Vocations. “Since 2006, we have had an event specifically to bring together altar servers from across the diocese to thank them and provide an opportunity for them to meet others who share their ministry in their own communities, but also to help them understand they are part of the wider church.”

Over the years, events have been held in Traverse City, Gaylord, and Alpena, and have included Beach Bums baseball games, skating and swimming at the Otsego County Sportsplex and activities at Thunder Bay Recreation Center.

“We try to move around the diocese both to reduce the travel burden on any one area, but even more importantly, to provide an opportunity for these youth, as well as their chaperones, to experience a different area of the diocese and to make the connection that we are part of something much bigger than our local parish,” Fr. Don added.

Mass_for_web.jpgSt. Matthew Church was filled to capacity for the Mass. Most of the seminarians studying for the Diocese of Gaylord were also present for the event, assisting as altar servers at the Mass and later engaging with the young people at the picnic and waterpark.

“How wonderful it is to see so many of you here today!” said Bishop Bernard Hebda as he welcomed the group at the beginning of the liturgy.

“We owe you our thanks.. The work that you do gives glory to God and helps each of us see the love of God more clearly. Bishop Hebda went on to note “I am thrilled with our altar servers and the time and dedication that you give to your parish and your ministry. I hope that you continue to grow in grace and in wisdom.”

Following the Mass, a picnic lunch was served in the parish hall which was prepared by members of the Boyne Valley Knights of Columbus Council #6548.

“We’re really grateful to all the altar servers and the Knights here also want to thank them for their service to the Church – make sure you tell them that,” remarked Ed Kelenske.

Jarvis_low_res.jpgThe group then travelled the short distance to Avalanche Bay for after afternoon of swimming, sliding and splashing in the indoor waterpark.

“This is just so much fun!” exclaimed participants as they floated by on inner tubes and held on tightly to boards in a surfing simulator and “Thanks for a great day!” was echoed repeatedly as groups departed.

“We are all really pleased with how the event turned out,” Fr. Geyman said. “It’s important that these young people know they are appreciated and it’s also a unique opportunity for them to interact with our seminarians. Perhaps they might even reflect for a short time on their own vocation in the Church and how they will serve as they get older.”

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