By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
DREXEL HILL – Refurbishing a set of the Stations of the Cross helped 18-year-old Matthew Ryan earn his Eagle Scout badge.
It also served as a reminder to the Monsignor Bonner High School senior of Easter’s salvific message.
“Every time I walk by them, I just think of what Jesus did,” Ryan said of the crucifixion depicted in the restored stations that now grace an outdoor prayer garden at Archbishop Prendergast High School, next door to Monsignor Bonner, in Drexel Hill, Delaware County.
“He made the ultimate sacrifice. Every time I think of my Eagle Scout project, I’ll always be reminded of that and never lose sight of what He did,” Ryan said.
How the stations came to grace the prayer garden at Prendie is providential.
Last summer, Ryan was seeking a project for his Eagle Scout badge – the highest award of the Boy Scouts of America – that would honor both his school and the Church. At Bonner, Ryan serves as a sacristan and altar server. At his parish, St. Joseph in Collingdale, he is the lead teen sacristan and, in younger years, was an altar server there. Ryan is also a 2006 alumnus of the parish school.
Meanwhile, Michael and Denise McKenzie of St. Bernadette Parish in Drexel Hill had been looking for an opportunity to honor St. Leonie Aviat. The couple’s daughter, Bernadette McKenzie Kutufaris, a 1995 Prendie alumna, was the recipient of the final miracle that led to Blessed Leonie Aviat’s canonization in 2001.
Michael McKenzie also serves as the director of operations and security at Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast.
It was Father James P. Olson, president of Bonner and Prendie, who suggested that Ryan and the McKenzies concretize their concepts into a combined project.
The McKenzies purchased the stations through the Archdiocesan Ecclesiastical Exchange Program. Previously, the stations had been part of the chapel of St. Vincent Home in Philadelphia.
An interesting correlation is that before Archbishop Prendergast High was converted into a school, its building housed an archdiocesan institution by a similar name – St. Vincent Orphanage.
The restoration project included waterproofing the 14 wooden stations and constructing wooden shelters for them, then mounting each station on a wooden post.
Among the approximately 30 inspaniduals who helped Ryan were members of his scout troop, including Joseph Pean, a Bonner sophomore; family members of the scouts, including Ryan’s parents, Daniel and Rebecca; and his siblings, Kathleen, 15, a Prendie sophomore, and Andrew, 13, a seventh-grader at St. Joseph School in Collingdale. The McKenzies also helped with the project.
Prendie’s prayer garden was dedicated last October. Ryan received his Eagle Scout ranking in November.
A scout since the sixth grade, Ryan is proud of his faith-based project. “God is always a primary part of what we do,” he said.
“I just like helping people. Being a Catholic means you’re courteous to all and kind to all.
“I love my faith,” he added.
The Stations of the Cross are timeless pillars of strength and grace, a gift for all, Ryan said.
“They depict Jesus’ passion and death, which is the most important event in the life of Christ, and it’s the basis for our faith. They’re essential. Everybody should know them and embrace them,” he said.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or email@example.com.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Share this story