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Gathering Christmas spirit in Warren

WARREN — Two local parishes are bringing the community together using the spirit of Christmas.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Blessed Sacrament parishes have put together the first North Road Christmas event. The Rev. Christopher Cicero, pastor of both parishes, said he wanted to throw an event that builds up community members.

“It’s just a community event to try and bring people together, especially younger people, at the church, while preparing ourselves for Christmas and being mindful of the reason for the season,” Cicero said.

The event was held at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church and featured carriage rides, a petting zoo, photos with Santa and a pancake breakfast. Sister Mary Beata Im said Cicero himself was behind the griddle and flipped pancakes all morning.

Im is a sister with the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate, and is visiting the parishes with Sister Debra Marie Comins. Cicero invited the sisters on behalf of the Diocese of Youngstown, and they arrived in late September. Since then, they have been making house visits, doing door-to-door evangelization and helping teach religious education classes at Blessed Sacrament. One of their major projects was helping the parishes prepare for North Road Christmas, particularly the Christmas pageant.

Cicero said Christmas pageants are typical for the parishes, but this is the first time an event is built around it. The program featured children from both parishes and the JFK Lower Campus, and told the story of the birth of Jesus Christ through re-enactment and songs.

Rachel Varga, a senior at John F. Kennedy Catholic School, was the cantor of the program after Im and Comins heard her singing at a football game and asked her to be part of the program. She said it was fun working with the kids over the last month, and she gave special recognition to pianist Victoria Thumm.

“She’s the great one here; I mean she’s in the fourth grade and she played all of the songs,” Varga said.

The parishes accepted donations throughout the event that will be sent to the Warm Hearts for Warm Homes campaign sponsored by Catholic Charities. The campaign raises money to provide winter utility assistance to individuals and families in need.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, the Warm Hearts for Warm Homes campaign has raised $450,000 for utility assistance, impacting the lives of over 60,000 people since it started in 2008.

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