Bishop Checchio Celebrates Ahr Star Mass with Students and Families
Posted on 12/13/2016
On Tuesday, December 13, 2016 the traditional Ahr Star Pre-Christmas liturgy was celebrated for the BGA community and the Ahr Stars by Bishop James Checchio.  Father Keith Cervine, Bishop Ahr High School chaplain, concelebrated the liturgy with the Bishop. Father Edmund Luciano served as the Master of Ceremonies and Deacon Richard Lutomski assisted at the liturgy. The gym was transformed into a beautiful cathedral for the celebration – complete with moving angels, lighted trees and poinsettia plants and a praying and singing congregation. Sister Cynthia Marie Babyak, Campus Minister and Ahr Star Moderator, was in charge of this annual liturgy.

Music for the liturgy was provided by Mr. Joseph Cullinan ’02 and the liturgical music ensemble and chorus. After communion, a most inspiring and reflective rendition of “O, Holy Night” was performed by Alexa Karp ‘17. The music added that special touch to this very special liturgy.
To make the event even more meaningful, both Ahr Stars, Finley O’Neill and Brianna Feeney, were able to attend and share in the Christmas spirit.

After the liturgy, Ahr Star Co-Chairs Kelsey Kacsmar ’17 and Jude Roche ‘18, along with members of Ahr Star Board and the Student Council, presented the Ahr Stars and their families with many gifts and tokens of support. All of the gifts were purchased with the money donated by the Bishop Ahr students. The families each received $2,000, which is part of the money raised from the Spaghetti Dinner. However, the biggest hit of the day was the motorized mini-vehicle, which was driven by Finley and his brother Liam all around the gymnasium and the school. Brianna, who will celebrate her 8th birthday on December 26th, received an iPad. With this iPad, she will be able to better communicate and enjoy the world around her. The siblings of both Ahr Stars also received special Christmas gifts!

The parents of both Ahr Stars then got up and spoke to the BGA community, thanking them for the Ahr Star program, and the love, prayers and support that has been given to them by the Bishop Ahr family. Finley’s mom - Mary Ellen Ewing O’Neill ’98 and Brianna’s mom - Patricia Trenchak Feeney ’92 expressed how much they needed and depended on the prayers of the BGA community. They told the students how important the lessons about life that they were taught at BGA have helped them deal with having a special needs child. They both said they never would have thought sitting in the gym for an Ahr Star mass when they were students, that one day they would come back to be an Ahr Star family.

The Ahr Star families stayed to enjoy a special luncheon after which Finley and Brianna, their families and Jude and Kelsey visited with the school, spending time with faculty, staff, and students. Laughter and joy could be heard throughout the halls! Sister Cyndi and Jude even had a “vehicle” race on the hallway! Of course – Sister Cyndi won!

The Ahr Star Mass is always one of the most anticipated events of the year, and this year was no exception. It is a humbling and heartwarming experience that emphasizes and reminds everyone what Christmas is all about. This year’s celebration was no different and proved to be just that - a REAL Christmas celebration.