When Richard McClintock weaved his way through a maze of comfortable armchairs in a Winooski assisted-living facility, he had no idea the visit was the continuation of a journey started by his paternal grandmother.
Soon, he sat down next to the Most Rev. Bishop Kenneth Angell, bishop emeritus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. At first, McClintock, 16, of Shelburne, didn’t realize the clergyman was one of three spiritual shepherds his grandmother, Mary McClintock, worked for during her tenure as a secretary at the diocesan headquarters. As the two chatted, Angell’s eyes lit up when he learned that Richard’s family connection found a path into Our Lady of Providence, a Catholic facility nestled in the middle of a tree-lined neighborhood.
McClintock was among a group of 40 Catholic youth who spent the last weekend in June reaching out to others. The students formed the heart and soul of the Vermont Youth Catholic Service Team. The event is a successor to the annual youth conference. This is the first year the event included a community service component, according to Deacon Paul Garrow, who accompanied the group to volunteer sites. It’s hoped it will become a yearly event, Garrow said.
“We served social service agencies in Chittenden County,” Garrow said. “Pope Francis declared that this year is a year of mercy,” he said. “Mercy is all about service.”
The inter-generational assignment at Our Lady of Providence was included in the conference’s afternoon activities. The group spent the morning helping out at other sites.
That theme of mercy also played a role in Richard’s decision to participate in the weekend event. “I heard about it at school,” said Richard, a rising junior at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. “The students [who participated in past conference] spoke very highly of it. It sounded like a great opportunity to strengthen my faith and help the community.”
After initial introductions, the youth read from a prepared list of questions. Those conversations served as a springboard for the residents to tell the students about their lives, their careers and favorite memories. The activity wrapped up with prayer.
Moving to another resident, McClintock sat next to a woman who talked about her marriage and her extended family. “You had a great life,” Richard told the woman. “That’s great to hear.”
As more residents filled the room, more activity moved to the facility’s spacious and airy dining room. McClintock also sat with Helen Urban, who moved to Our Lady of Providence from the New York City area about a year ago. Mrs. Urban, 101, remarked that her move to the area was in part sparked by a desire to live closer to her son. Eager to make a connection, McClintock said a similar situation occurred with his family.
Lisa McClintock, Richard’s mother, said she was pleased her son participated in the experience. She is grateful the diocese has activities like this. The McClintock family members are parishioners at Saint Catherine of Siena Roman Catholic Church in Shelburne.
As the conversations wound down, several students went into Our Lady of Providence’s chapel, bringing out hymnals. The books were cracked open and Garrow led the group through a number of popular religious songs.