PORT HENRY-Teens in the Catholic Community of Moriah are praying for peace this Lenten season.
Young members of St. Patrick's Church in Port Henry and the Church of All Saints in Mineville hope to raise awareness of the sacrifices of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan while petitioning for divine intervention in the conflicts.
"The junior high group has put together crosses for the fallen packets, which include strips of paper, a list of soldiers killed in action and a request that everyone puts the crosses together and says one Our Father for each soldier and his/her family," said Lorraine Turgeon. "A cross will be made for each of the 5,936 soldiers who have died up to this date. Parishioners are asked to bring back the completed crosses which will be hung in our church during Lent."
Turgeon is the director of religious education for the Catholic Community of Moriah and leader of the teen group.
The teens will lead people in the Stations of the Cross for Peace Friday, April 15, at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick's in Port Henry. All community members are invited to attend.
"During Lent the junior high group at the Catholic Community of Moriah is hard at work not only bringing awareness to the community of the great losses that the U.S. has endured with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq but are uniting the parish in praying for the families of the U.S. men and women who have not made it home alive," Turgeon said. "The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the longest wars in American history - longer than World War II or Vietnam. But the biggest difference in these wars is the engagement of the people here at home.
"During WWII, it was evident that there was an evil element in the world and the attitude of Americans was one of support and sacrifice for good to prevail," she continued. "During this current conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq we as a nation are not so united and awareness of the daily loss of American life is not talked about. During WWII, my mother tells me stories of how her community rallied together. She talked about rations and women taking on jobs that were more traditionally male jobs, and grandmothers knitting the gloves for soldiers.
"But one of the most poignant stories for me is that she and her classmates, each day at 1 p.m., would all gather in the school yard, raise their arms as Jesus did on the cross and would recite the rosary," Turgeon said. "They, as most Catholics at the time, believed that prayer was essential in ending the war and bringing home their loved ones alive."
Turgeon hopes to revive that tradition through the Lenten project.
"Our hope is that this event will be thought provoking, unifying and give young people a new awareness of the devotion that lies within the people of our community," she said.
The youth group has created 185 packets, which were distributed to parishioners who have committed to pray and to return them to the church.
"The soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice for freedom should never be forgotten, and we pray for their families who will love and miss them forever, we want to tell these families that we are with you," Turgeon said.