Blessings spur Oak Lawn teen to bring holiday cheer to shut-ins
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent December 14, 2012 11:16AM
Kieran McAvoy, a senior at Brother Rice High School in Chicago, bakes cookies and takes them to the homebound in his parish and sings Christmas carols. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 18, 2013 6:01AM
Baking cookies and singing carols are among holiday traditions sure to get many into a festive mood.
That explains why Kieran McAvoy is baking and delivering cookies to homebound members of St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Oak Lawn, then serenading them with Christmas carols.
McAvoy, a senior at Brother Rice High School in Chicago, has been a member of St. Catherine of Alexandria’s teen group since he was in seventh grade. The group, led by youth minister Terry Landstrom, counts visiting the homebound — with cookies and carols — among its main Christmas service projects, in addition to collecting clothes for the underprivileged.
“We go to the youth minister’s house the night before and bake cookies. It is a fun time,” said McAvoy, 18.
He enjoys the home visits as much as the homebound parishioners.
“They like it and it brings tears to their eyes,” he said. “They don’t go out of the house and don’t have a lot of interaction with other people, so it makes them feel good.”
Many of the people McAvoy visits stick in his memory.
“There’s one lady we visit every year. I remember her because she is blind and has a collection of wooden ducks in her apartment,” he said. “She always cries and she seems to really enjoy our company. We know all of them enjoy us, but she stands out in my mind.
“These homebound people are grateful for our visits,” he said. “Doing this at Christmastime is special to me because I realize they are members of society, and just because they are homebound doesn’t mean they should be turned away from anyone. It feels good to make them feel important, and it means a lot to me.”
McAvoy, the son of Cathy and Dominic McAvoy, of Oak Lawn, feels a special affinity with service projects, perhaps because of his maternal grandmother, Carol Fadden, of Oak Lawn.
“My grandmother is a very strong, devoted Catholic. She always puts her family before herself, and I really admire that,” he said.
He also looks up to his mother.
“She is one of the hardest-working people I know,” McAvoy said. “Especially in the recent months, she’s helped me a lot with college applications and is helping me with scholarships while she still does her job.”
At Brother Rice, McAvoy participates in the Spanish and Key clubs. He is captain of the diving team and is one of several students who make the daily morning school announcements.
He wants to study education in college and become a high school teacher.
“I’ve always been drawn to teaching,” McAvoy said. “I’ve never had a bad teacher. I’ve always enjoyed all my classes. It is meant to be. I’m never afraid to give a presentation in front of the class. It is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
He is considering Benedictine University in Lisle, Millikin University in Decatur, and Chicago’s Roosevelt University.
“They all have good education programs and seem like the perfect schools for me,” McAvoy said. “They are not too big and offer a friendly environment. My first choice is a Catholic school connected with service, so I feel I would fit in there very well.”
For McAvoy, giving back started when he was a seventh-grader.
“My youth minister thought I’d be a good leader, and she drafted me into our teen club,” he said. “Since then, service is very important because it is another way to give back to the community for all the blessings I have in my life.”
All those blessings keep McAvoy on track.
“Everything I have in my life reminds me of a desire in me to give back,” he said. “There’s the potential in me to be a good leader, and I’d like to make leaders out of those I see potential in. It’s like the saying, ‘Do good and see the good in others.’ ”