METHUEN — Since an early age, Natalie Slabcynski, Elizabeth Friedrich and Colleen Braga have been active in church as altar servers, lectors, and teaching Sunday school.
This winter, the members of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish will put their faith to work as they travel to the Dominican Republic Dec. 29 to Jan. 5 to work at an orphanage for children with disabilities and distributing food to Haitian refuges.
“It’s a great thing to do to help the poorest of the poor and expand my horizons,” Slabcynski said.
“It’s good for us to experience how other people live so when we complain about getting something, we can think of the people who have no food. It will show us not to take things for granted,” Braga said.
Braga, Slabcynski, and Friedrich, all juniors at Lowell Catholic, are among 12 students who will be going on the mission trip through Mustard Seed Communities. Mustard Seed established the orphanage in 2001 in Cangrejo, on the outskirts of Puerto Plata, a town known for its resorts visited by tourists from around the world.
The group will be working at Hogar Immanuel, an orphanage caring for 12 disabled children and Batey La Union, a village near Sosua garbage dump where many Haitian refugees live.
“We want to show them that they are not as different as they think they are,” Friedrich said.
Other than being nervous about the girls’ first trip overseas, their parents said it will be an enriching experience for them.
“I’m more excited for the experience she will get from helping others and how much she’s going to gain,” said Braga’s mother, Christine Ferrara.
The trip costs $1,800 for each student. Braga, Slabcynski, and Friedrich have been holding events to raise money. On Thursday, they held a fundraiser at The Irish Cottage in Methuen where they received 20 percent of the evening’s proceeds. The restaurant made an extra donation for the number of people who attended. The girls and their parents also held a 50/50 raffle and gift baskets, which raised $581. The students had previously held a pancake breakfast and bean supper at the church. Their next fundraising event will be a night of Irish music in December.
Braga, Slabcynski, and Friedrich and their parents said they have been overwhelmed by generosity from parishioners of Our Lady of Good Counsel, area businesses and residents.
“I think people just want to help because they see their commitment to spend Christmas vacation helping others. It’s an incredible opportunity for them,” Linda Slabcynski said.
In addition to financial contributions the students are collecting toiletries, school supplies, medicine and other items. Donations can be dropped off at Lowell Catholic High, 530 Stevens St., Lowell or by contacting Linda Slabcynzki at email@example.com; Mark Friedrich at firstname.lastname@example.org and Christine Ferrara at email@example.com
At Our Lady of Good Counsel which holds Mass at St. Augustine Chapel in Lawrence and St. Theresa Church in Methuen, Braga and Slabcynski are both lectors while Friedrich decorates the church during the holidays.
At Lowell Catholic, Friedrich, Braga and Slabcynski take honors classes. Slabcynski is part of the drama club, the choir, a student ambassador and mock trial team. Friedrich plays volleyball and basketball and is a student ambassador and Braga plays basketball, volleyball, softball, is a student ambassador and part of the student council.
“They never realized how bad other people are and the struggles they go through. The trip will add so much to their beliefs which will give them meaning to their faith and put a face on it,” Geralyn Friedrich said.
All Saints, 120 Bellevue Ave., Haverhill: Annual blessing of the pets is tomorrow at 1 p.m. Third graders from the parish school will donate cans of cat and dog food for the local MSPCA. St. Anthony’s fall devotion, Tuesdays 11 at 6 p.m. beginning with the rosary at 6 p.m., followed by devotions at 6:20 p.m.
Christ Church, 25 Central St., Andover: Taize service is celebrated tomorrow at 5 p.m. alternating readings with periods of silence, meditative chants sung repetitively in prayer. Book discussion on “Healing the Heart of Democracy” by Parker Palmer Wednesdays in October at 7 p.m.
Corpus Christi parish at Holy Rosary, 35 Essex St., Lawrence: “Why Catholic” a six week course based on the Catechism, the Catholic church and scripture meets Mondays at 1 p.m. and Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m.
Faith Lutheran, 360 S. Main St., Andover: Pastors Steve Wigall and Jon Heydenreich lead a discussion on, “Finding God in the Face of Evil,” Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
First Presbyterian, 346 Broadway, Haverhill: Book study is reading Rob Bell’s “Velvet Elvis” Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a..m.
Forest Street Union, 15 Forest St., Methuen: Discussion about the Death with Dignity bill on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. Massachusetts residents will vote on the bill Nov. 6.
Island Pond Baptist, 26 N. Salem Road, Hampstead: Women’s Bible study, a DVD series discussing the works of noted Christian writer and speaker, Elisabeth Elliot every Thursday from 9:15 to 11:30 a.m.
Londonderry United Methodist, 258 Mammoth Road, Londonderry: Adult Sunday School class titled, “What Does it mean to be United Methodist” is Sundays at 10 a.m. The video series focuses on the roots of the United Methodist church and the Wesleyan heritage.
Our lady of Good Counsel, 22 Plymouth St., Methuen: Bible study focusing on “Year of Faith” as proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The group meets Mondays through Nov. 19; Wednesdays to Nov. 28 and Thursdays to Dec. 6 all from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
North Parish, 190 Academy Road, North Andover: People interested in learning more about the Unitarian Universalist sources and history can join the Rev. Lee Bluemel for an introductory class, Exploring Unitarian Universalism tomorrow and Oct. 28 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. to register, contact MembershipCoordinator@northparish.org.
Sacred Hearts, South Main St., Bradford: The Rev. John Delaney leads a video enrichment series on key elements of the Catholic faith Oct. 18, 25, Nov. 8 and 15 6:30 to 8 p.m. The parish hosts the citywide youth Mass Oct. 28 at 5 p.m.
St. Anne, 26 Emerson Ave., Hampstead: Holy Hour dedicated to the youth celebrated Monday from 7 to 8 p.m. with evening prayer, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, communal prayer, reflection, scripture reading and benediction.
St. Augustine, 43 Essex St., Andover: Memorial Mass for Augustinian Brother John DelCasale is Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. DelCasale died Sept. 20 after a 13-month battle with brain cancer. His funeral Mass and burial was in Villanova, Pa. Contributions in Brother John’s memory can be made to the Augustinian Retirement Fund, P.O. Box 340, Villanova, PA 19085. An eight-week guided prayer experience based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius is Wednesdays 7-8:15 p.m., through Nov. 7. Catholic series based on the Rev. Robert Barron’s DVD series runs Oct. 24; Nov. 14 and 28; Jan. 23 and 30; March 6 and 20; April 10 and 24 and May 15. The series explores what Catholics believe and why, the art, architecture, literature, beliefs and practices of the Catholic tradition. Cost is $30 for the entire series or $10 or one day, To register email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
San Damiano House of Prayer, 333 Pawtucket St., Lowell: Spiritual retreat for parents who have the death of a child of any age and by any cause is Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
St. David Episcopal, 231 Main St., Salem: Bishop Gene Robinson celebrates services and preaches, Oct. 29 at 8 a.m. Parishioners who wish to be received into the church or confirmed will have an opportunity during the bishop’s visit. Robinson will be retiring at the end of the year.
St. James, Winter Street, Haverhill: A new course on “My Life with the Saints” by the Rev. James Martin is held Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. The parish’s third annual 5 kilometer fun run and Rosary walk is Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. at St. James School Pancake breakfast follows. Proceeds benefit Emmaus House, the Pregnancy Care Center and parish programs.
St. John the Baptist, 120 Lincoln Ave., Haverhill: Members of the Marian Society devoted to Our Lady of Fatima pray the Rosary Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. The Rev. John Walsh leads a new course on “My Life with the Saints” by the Rev. James Martin, Wednesdays at 9:45 a.m.
St. Jude, 435 Mammoth Road, Londonderry: The parish offers instruction to adults with special needs so they can receive the sacraments, Wednesdays 7-8:15 a.m.
St. Lucy, 254 Merrimack St., Methuen: Rachel Voiland presents “Themes in Scripture” Wednesdays, 7-8 p.m. and Fridays 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Topics are, “True Conversion and Repentance” Oct. 24 and 26 and “The Poor, Faithful Remnant,” Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.
Sts. Mary and Joseph Parish, 40 Main St., Salem: The program, “Exploring the Catholic Faith” where participants reflect on the Sunday gospel and discuss it, will be offered Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m. through Easter. Padre Donahue, the priests whom the Honduran missions team in Salem works with in Honduras visits Oct. 27 and 28.
St. Matthew, 2 Searles Road, Windham: “Eyes on Jesus” group meets for prayer today at 5 p.m. Members of the Knights of Columbus No. 7572 will pray the rosary for life Thursdays during October at 7 p.m. Prayer group meets Tuesdays at 9:15 a.m. to pray the Rosary in French and share the gospel. A six week preparation for a Marian consecration is held through Nov. 21, 7-8:30 p.m. The group will use the book, “33 Days to Morning Glory” handouts and DVD lessons by the Rev. Michael Gaitley. Cost is $15. To register, call the office.
St. Michael, 196 Main St., North Andover: Mass of anointing is celebrated Oct. 22 at 3 p.m. to welcome those who have difficulty coming to church due to age, illness or living in nursing homes, assisted living communities.
St. Patrick, 118 S. Broadway, Lawrence: The Family Faith Formation event begins tomorrow with the 9 a.m. Mass. After the service, they will break into groups for adults, high school students, elementary school, pre kindergarten and kindergarten students. The program will focus on The Year of Faith announced by Pope Benedict XVI. A series of catechesis for teenagers and adults takes place Mondays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. Talks focus on deepening or re-igniting one’s Catholic faith. “Life and Faith” adult faith formation series focusing on the sacraments will be held Thursdays from 7-8:30, Nov. 8, Dec. 13, Feb. 21, March 14 and April 11. Bible study for people in their 20s and 30s meets weekly to discuss the Passion and Resurrection narratives of Jesus, Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
St. Peter Episcopal, 3 Peabody Row, Londonderry: Centering prayer group meets Wednesdays at 7 p.m. for silent prayer and contemplation.
St. Thomas Aquinas, 26 Crystal Ave., Derry: The parish is hosting a study on the liturgy of the hours, Oct. 27 from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants will delve into its tradition, format and how to pray it. Charismatic prayer group meets for praise, thanksgiving and love through the Holy Spirit, Mondays 7-8:30 p.m.
South Church, 40 Central St., Andover: Monday night prayer group meets 7-8:30 p.m. to listen to each other and God through silence, centering prayer and compline. Bible study on the Book of Acts meets Tuesday 2-3:15 p.m.
Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: Deli dinner and movie night features “It’s a Matter of Size” will be shown Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. Cost is $15. Reservations must be made by Oct. 25. Celebrated singer of contemporary Jewish music performs Nov. 2 during the Sabbath service at 7 p.m. Concert follows with Silver.
Temple Emanu-El, 541 Main St., Haverhill: Sabbath family service celebrating the temple’s 75th anniversary is Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. New members will be received.
Unitarian Universalist, 15 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill: The Rev. Frank Clarkson and Kimberly Cloutier Green lead “Tending the Sacred: Holy Longing, Holy Listening” using contemplative prayer and spiritual direction Oct. 24, Nov. 7, 28 and Dec. 5 9:30-11:30 a.m. and Oct. 30, Nov. 13, 27 and Dec. 11, 7-9 p.m.
West Parish, 129 Reservation Road, Andover: Those interested in joining the church can meet Oct. 28 at 9 a.m. Tomorrow, the sermon focuses on the Massachusetts Death with Dignity act which will be on the statewide ballot in November.