HNP ministries fared better than the Denver Broncos, when this year’s Super Bowl brought thousands of sports fans to the New Jersey-New York metropolitan area and parishes located nearby. The event created ample opportunity for communities to bond as well as for groups to bring important issues to the public’s attention.
Human Trafficking Awareness
At St. Mary’s Parish, Pompton Lakes, N.J., the newly formed Women’s Rights Team launched its first initiative by creating a campaign that spread awareness about human trafficking and its connection to the Super Bowl. Though collecting exact statistics about the modern-day slave trade is difficult. Estimates claim that every 10 minutes, one person is trafficked in the United States, according to WTLC, a nonprofit that fights exploitation.
Major sporting events have a tendency to create an increase in both the sex and labor industries, where the event is being held, according to the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking. To help combat this, the women’s rights team at St. Mary’s included in the parish bulletin and website throughout January information about ways to fight human trafficking.
“This is something the team is passionate about putting an end to,” said Jeanne Michaud, team leader, in The Beacon. “When we began the team, this was something we spent weeks discerning. I see the hand of God in this to have us all come together on this issue.”
The team stated in the Feb. 2 parish bulletin that they hoped were successful efforts to reduce and prevent the influx of child sex slaves during the Super Bowl.
“Even if they were, our work is far from over,” the team said. “Human trafficking, both for sex and labor, continues to be a growing problem.”
The women’s rights team will continue to raise awareness about human trafficking throughout the year. Those who wish to be involved are encouraged to contact Michaud at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Super Plunge X
While thousands were preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII, hundreds gathered that afternoon on Brant Beach, Long Beach Island, N.J., for Super Plunge X.
The water’s frigid 34 degrees did not deter the more than 200 people who sprinted into the Atlantic Ocean to benefit the St. Francis Community Center. Luckily for participants, the air temperature was 51 degrees, nearly 40 degrees warmer than low temperatures two weeks prior to the Feb. 2 event.
Among the plungers were Kevin Daly, OFM, and John Frambes, OFM. Parish administrator James Scullion, OFM, stayed on shore, joking that one of the priests needed to remain dry in case someone needed to administer last rites to a frozen participant, according to Patch.com.
The water temperature for this year’s plunge was the coldest yet, according to Michael Thompson, Super Plunge coordinator and recreation director at St. Francis Community Center. The warmest temperature was 45 degrees in 2007.
This year’s plunge raised $5,000. Over the past 10 years, 1,660 people have taken part in this event.
“The best part of the polar plunge is the high school students, the Southern Regional Rams,” said Kevin. “Their sense of humor, energy, costume creativity and comradery are absolutely contagious. The fact that the plunge is a fundraiser is important, but the students make the event a celebration.
“The water was really cold,” Kevin added. “But not as cold as it was in Rye Beach, N.H.”
John described the event as “very reviving.”
“It was a great way to become immersed in the life of the community,” said the friar, who moved to the parish in January.
In Camden, N.J., the community gathered for the third annual Super Bowling event raising money to support the ministries of St. Anthony of Padua Parish. Karl Koenig, OFM, Hugh Macsherry, OFM, Juan Turcios, OFM, andJud Weiksnar, OFM, pastor, all participated.
“We don’t have a final total yet, but I raised $1,176 in the final game, when people sponsored me for $6.61 per pin,” Jud said. “I bowled a 178, almost 50 pins above my average score, including four strikes in a row.”
Among items raffled off at the event was a Franciscan basket that included a St. Anthony’s cap and shirt, a book by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, and enrollment in the Franciscan Mass League. Photos from the Feb. 1 event are available on the parish’s Facebook page.
Around the Province, from Massachusetts to Florida, friars and their friends enjoyed gathering together as they watched the Seattle Seahawks trounce the Broncos during the 2014 Super Bowl game.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.