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Students’ backpacks blessed in Mass at St. George Church

John Badrov Tinley Park brought his 4-year-old sJack blessing backpacks ceremony St. George Church Tinley Park Sunday.

John Badrov, of Tinley Park, brought his 4-year-old son, Jack, to the blessing of the backpacks ceremony at St. George Church in Tinley Park Sunday.

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Updated: September 20, 2013 6:36AM



When Emma Arentz, of Lockport, and Angie Wisniewski and Elena Hattar, of Tinley Park, head off to kindergarten this week, they’ll be carrying backpacks that are bright, colorful and blessed.

The three friends, who start at St. George School in Tinley Park Thursday, were joined by more than 50 youngsters — from preschoolers up to college students — for a special backpack blessing at St. George Church on Sunday.

“Kids are an important part of our parish, especially because we have a parish school,” said Deacon Gregory Bartos, who assisted the Rev. Tomy Vadakevattukula, in wishing the children well for the upcoming school year. Near the end of the 11:30 a.m. Mass, the students were asked to gather near the altar for a blessing and sprinkling of holy water.

“This is a way to include children in our liturgy. Plus, it sends a message to all of the families here that kids are special, that we care about families,” Bartos said. “The backpack is just an excuse. We really want to bless the kids.”

Lena Hattar, Elena’s mom and a resident of Tinley Park, said, “St. George is like a family to us. Blessing backpacks is a fun way to start the school year. The kids like to say I’ve been blessed.”

Bradley Lann, of Country Club Hills, brought his 4-year-old son Samuel to the blessing. Samuel starts preschool this week.

“I grew up Catholic. Now he’s at an age when he can start understanding about Jesus and God,” Lann said.

Jodi Pelini, of Tinley Park, said, “This is a great way for kids to start the school year. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate.”

She was accompanied by her children, Nicholas, 9, Bella, 8 and Danny, 11-months.

No one was more excited than 6-year-old Anthony Ponziano, who beamed from ear to ear when Vadakevattukula shook the wand full of blessed water, known as an aspergilium, over his head.

Anthony starts first grade at Memorial School in Tinley Park this year. He attends religious education classes at St. George.

“He’s very excited to go to school,” said his mom, Jessie Ponziano.

Vadakevattukula said this is the first year that St. George Church has offered the back-to-school blessing of the backpacks, which was open to all students.

“We will also have a Mass for the students who attend St. George School,” he said. “This was a way for us to invite public school students to share in the blessing. We just want to get everyone off to a good start for the new school year.”



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