July 10, 2015

Girl Scout hopes project helps unite faith communities

Theresa Bridge, right, invited the students of Holy Cross Central School and St. Philip Neri School to create art work that showed their love of their Catholic faith and their pride for the east side of Indianapolis. She then organized an art show as a way of creating another connection between the two faith communities after Holy Cross Parish was merged into St. Philip Neri Parish. Theresa poses in this photo with Emily Schenkenfelder, the art teacher at St. Philip Neri School. (Submitted photo)

Theresa Bridge, right, invited the students of Holy Cross Central School and St. Philip Neri School to create art work that showed their love of their Catholic faith and their pride for the east side of Indianapolis. She then organized an art show as a way of creating another connection between the two faith communities after Holy Cross Parish was merged into St. Philip Neri Parish. Theresa poses in this photo with Emily Schenkenfelder, the art teacher at St. Philip Neri School. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Theresa Bridge knows the challenges that can arise when two people or two faith communities are asked to come together in the hope of creating a connection that has the potential to be even more special.

So the 16-year-old student at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis decided to become “part of the solution” when she realized there would be growing pains as Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis merged into St. Philip Neri Parish in Indianapolis as part of the archdiocese’s “Connected in the Spirit” plan.

“I really like these people from Holy Cross and St. Philip Neri,” Theresa says. “The parishes are different in their cultures and ethnicities. I hope they can grow to like one another and unite in times of need or want.”

Theresa has even chosen to make that hope the focus of her project to achieve the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is the equivalent of the Boy Scout Eagle Award.

She began the project earlier this year when she invited the children of Holy Cross Central School and St. Philip Neri School to create art work that showed their love of their faith and their pride for the east side of Indianapolis. She then organized an art show that was held at Holy Cross Central School on April 26 and the St. Philip Neri Youth Center on May 2-3.

“There were 245 students who participated,” Theresa says, noting that about 200 people attended the shows. “The parishioners were impressed by the art show, the students’ creativity and how the art show was put together.”

She’s now ready to start the second part of her project, which is focused on storytelling.

“I want to get people to share their stories of the two parishes that are now merged as one. I love hearing and learning more about history. I saw that people had stories they wanted to share about the parish.”

Theresa is inviting parishioners to write and submit their stories to StpnStoryShare@hotmail.com. The same e-mail address can be used by people who want to sign up to have their stories recorded by Theresa in late summer or early fall.

She also hopes parishioners will share historic photographs of their parishes and “old letters from family members that talk about parish history.” All the stories, letters and photos may eventually appear on the parish’s website “to promote understanding and cooperation.”

Theresa wants her project to be another step toward uniting two special faith communities.

“I hope the two parishes that merged into one can learn more about each other, add future history together, and grow as one.” †

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