St. John Vianney youth ministry spreading hope with rally

St. John Vianney youth ministry spreading hope with rally

Veronica Plante, left, coordinator of youth ministry at St. John Vianney Church in Cumberland, and her daughter, Madeline, will be at the youth group’s rally on Feb. 7, holding signs with messages of hope and waving to passing cars. 
Feb. 7 event will also be collection for NRI Food Pantry

CUMBERLAND – Dipping temperatures won’t stop members of the youth ministry at St. John Vianney Church in Cumberland from standing outside and spreading messages of hope next weekend, says the group’s leader.

“Even though it’s cold, the kids don’t care,” Veronica Plante, coordinator of youth ministry at the church, told The Breeze. “We want people smiling and waving” as they drive by.

On Sunday, Feb. 7, from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m., members of the youth ministry group will be hosting a rally, Hope Revival, to bring hope and encouragement to the local community, said Plante. Teens will be in front of the church, at 3587 Diamond Hill Road, with balloons and signs with messages such as, “Hope is here,” and “We’re praying for you” to let community members know they’re not alone during these difficult times.

Elaria Tedeschi, a member of the youth ministry and a senior at Mount Saint Charles Academy, said the event is a great way “to express our appreciation to the community and bring hope and encouragement to parishioners and anyone else who drives by the church.”

Tedeschi said it’s important for everyone to know that it’s OK to feel scared and different right now during the pandemic, but hopes that the event will be a way to bring some fun and excitement to the community and put smiles on people’s faces.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Plante’s daughter, Madeline, a 10th-grader. “It’s going to spread hope to people, showing that we’re still here.” She said she thinks given how tough things have been this year, people will be happy to see them out there.

Youth will also be collecting cans of soup for the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry’s annual “Souper Bowl” collection, Plante said.

There will be contactless drop-off for anyone wishing to donate. Volunteers can take the cans from your trunk or you can place them in boxes at the entrance/exit ways. A rain/snow date is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 14. Last year, Plante said, the parish collected 850 cans of soup for the food pantry, and hopes to receive at least 800 this year, if not more. People are welcome to donate other nonperishable food items, such as peanut butter and canned protein including tuna, which are always in high demand at the food pantry, she added.

Tedeschi also asked that everyone bring a canned good for the food pantry, which is in dire need of donations, and said a donation would not only help the pantry, but the greater Cumberland community.

The idea for the event was inspired by both the lack of activities that members of the youth ministry can participate in right now, and by the fact that the parish takes part in the food pantry’s Souper Bowl every year, Plante explained. It was also inspired by the drive-by parades that people have been having for birthdays and other celebrations throughout the pandemic, she said.

The thought is that it will “bring hope to our parish community and those driving by on Diamond Hill Road,” she said, and will let them know “our parish is with them.”

With Masses at 25 percent capacity right now, Plante said it’s been very difficult to not have that same level of support. “We feel disconnected from each other. … A lot of older people are feeling disconnected,” she said, adding that teens are also feeling the absence since their typical events are canceled right now. Members of the youth ministry are in grades 6 through 12.

She said she hopes this event will bring that feeling of connection to the parish and be a “positive for the greater community.”

Because they can’t all be together and share in each other’s company as they normally would, Tedeschi said the event means a great deal, adding that she’s excited to be outside, socially distanced, and see other members of the youth ministry and parish.

As of last Thursday, Plante said she already had approximately 20 youths signed up to participate and expects that number will be closer to 30 or 40.

“I know a lot of kids want to come out,” she said.

On Sunday, Feb. 7, from 9:15 to 11:15 a.m., members of the youth ministry at St. John Vianney Church in Cumberland will be hosting a rally to bring hope and encouragement to the local community and will also be collecting cans of soup for the Northern Rhode Island Food Pantry. (Breeze photo by Melanie Thibeault)