As Chloe Ohoule joined her friends in the pews at Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Albert, she was stunned by the beauty of the church — and even more so by the difference that her school made after donating to the Holy Childhood Association (HCA).
“We are so lucky here, and we have such amazing lives, that we should be helping other children who need help too,” said Ohoule, 13, who was one of more than nearly 1000 kids that attended the annual Holy Childhood Mission Day Mass, May 2.
“We should always be helping others no matter what,” said Ohoule, a Grade 8 student from École Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Sherwood Park.
Founded in 1843 in France with the motto of ‘Children helping children’, the Holy Childhood Association is a children’s charity and pontifical mission society (a missionary group under the Pope’s direction) where Catholic children pray and financially support less-fortunate children in other countries.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton — including both Catholic schools and parishes — has become one of the largest contributors to the HCA, raising more than $170,000 between February 2016 and January 2018.
For Father Alex Osei, national director for the HCA, having the opportunity to share how much the Archdiocese’s donations have improved the lives of children globally was a proud moment.
“I’ve been travelling all over to see where your donation has been sent, to make sure that your money is being used properly. And I assure you, your money is being put to good use,” said Osei in his homily during the mass, adding that he visited grateful children in countries like Uganda, Kenya, and others.
“You are building clinics, you are building schools. You are building centres of education for people with handicaps. This is truly your donation, this is truly your support,” he said to the students.
Catholic schools from as far as Devon, Legal, and Leduc attended the annual Mission Day Archdiocesan mass, which began in 1999. A choir from Vital-Grandin Elementary School in St. Albert sang during the Mass.
Brendon Lord, a 14-year-old grade 8 student from Holy Spirit Catholic School in Sherwood Park, says that he’s glad to know that his school’s contribution to the HCA has made a difference for less-fortunate kids.
“When you see how fortunate we are here, it makes you feel … (those kids) are there and they have literally nothing … that we’re taking so much for granted,” he said.
Julie Streadwick, the chaplain for École Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School, says that the mass was a powerful moment for her students, many of whom normally don’t go to church.
“(The students) get to see that around the world, everybody celebrates the Holy Childhood (Association) and they donate to it. We talk about the Catholic Church as being universal, and they get to see it,” said Streadwick.
For 13-year-old Shae Romaniuk, a grade 8 student at École Our Lady of Perpetual Help, knowing that her school’s donations have changed the lives of kids just like her is a profoundly good feeling. “It’s really good,” she said.
“We’re really privileged here, and I feel like we take that for granted. They don’t have that much, so donating to them is giving them a lot. And when they get an education and some food, that is a lot for them,” said Romaniuk.
Alyre Morin, the school’s principal, says that since École Our Lady of Perpetual Help participates in several social justice projects, helping the HCA was a great way to participate in a Catholic-based charity.
“I think it’s tough for kids to connect with some association and with good deeds when they don’t have a personal connection with it,” said Morin, who notes that the mass provides a way for kids to personally connect to the HCA and become involved in helping kids in other countries.