Youthful enterprise helps light the way at St. Barnabas


Something special happened Sunday at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Apponaug. And it came in the form of your not-so-ordinary spaghetti supper.

Schweitzer Hall, the ageless parish’s all-purpose room that’s used for a multitude of things, was transformed into a huge Italian kitchen.

There were red and white-checkered table coverings, red, white and green balloons, streamers, paper chain links in the Italian colors, pictures of Tuscan villas and wineries you’d expect to find in a Cucina. The servers, who ranged in age from 7 to 18, wore white soda jerk caps and four adult men sported white aprons and never once stopped serving the well-cooked spaghetti they covered with a special sauce and meatballs.

In the middle of it all was Emily Seddon, a 23-yer-old Warwick resident who decided to help her church – in a time of need – by turning back the clock to her younger years.

Seddon is the director of Acolytes at St. Barnabas Church. And her mission was to hold a fundraiser to replace the outdated and perhaps dangerous torches that Acolytes carry during services and celebrations such as baptisms and holy days.

The current torches were falling apart. The glass coverings that catch candle drippings were chipped and cracked. The brass or gold plates on the wooden dowels weren’t all that steady, either.

“Our torches were real flimsy,” said Seddon, a one-time Acolyte who is now a Chalice Bearer and Vestry member at St. Barnabas. “We needed to get new liquid wax candles.”

The torches Seddon hoped St. Barnabas could purchase were 54 inches high and featured an oak-walnut finish, brass Bobeche and a liquid wax candle that looked like the real thing. In all, the parish needed four torches at $300 each.

Trouble was, like many parishes today, St. Barnabas was struggling financially prior to the arrival of Rev. John J. Pallard two years ago.

The climate has changed since Father John’s installation and induction back in July of 2010.

There’s been an infusion of youth by way of many new adult parishioners. As Joseph A. Rodrigues, senior warden of the recently seated new Vestry, put it, “While some parishes are either closing or merging, St. Barnabas is flourishing. We’ve gone from 91 to 135 pledges in a short time.”

St. Barnabas didn’t even have a youth group at one point and as Rodrigues added, “Now we have one that’s growing. And basically, we only had about three Acolytes and that’s certainly not nearly enough.”

And that’s where Seddon comes in.

With the help of her mother, the former Vestry member and parish treasurer, Heidi Seddon and Father Pallard, Emily Seddon sparked interest as well as fun and education into the Acolytes corps at St. Barnabas.

So much so, in fact, St. Barnabas has gone from 3 to 16 Acolytes in a relatively short time.

And Sunday, “Seddon’s Special Sixteen” Acolytes were at center stage during a spaghetti supper that people like Rodrigues and others called “a fantastic outpouring of support that also signifies the great direction our parish is heading.”

“I was overwhelmed with the turnout,” said Emily Seddon, a recent URI graduate who will receive her Master’s Degree in May from Adelphi University in New York. “We raised enough money to purchase three torches.”

The people who filled Schweitzer Hall to the max helped generate a gross amount of $1,553. Emily Seddon said after expenses, “we made a profit of $1,100. We now have enough money for the torches and we hope to be able to use them on Easter Sunday.”

St. Barnabas will only need to purchase three torches because Emily Seddon’s mother Heidi donated enough money for one torch.

“What a great turnout, a super and special show of support for our youth,” said Rodrigues. “This was a great fellowship event that helps bring the church back together.”

It was also an event during which “the children never dropped one dish,” said Emily Seddon, after accepting a host of well wishes and congratulations.


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