The Beacon — The Beacon_08/18/16
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Columbian Squires In Sparta Build Prayer Garden To Honor Late Pastor
Cecile San Agustin

In Memory of Father Pat Rice

SPARTA When the late Father Patrick Rice, pastor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish here, would say “God is good all the time, all the time God is good,” he said it during homilies, to charge up youth and as a reminder about the greatness of God.

And it still is a lasting memory the Corbin brothers — Hayden, 13, and Maddox, 11, have of the Irish-born priest, who passed away on Sept. 3, 2015. The two boys got to know Father Rice when he came to St. Kateri in 2009 as pastor. Moved by the priest’s holy example, they became altar servers creating a bond and a connection with the beloved priest, who advocated greatly for youth to be involved in the work of the Church.

After becoming altar servers, they joined the Columbian Squires, an international fraternity for Catholic young men, ages 10 to 18, sponsored by the local Knights of Columbus.

The Corbins belong to the St. Kateri Colum - bian Squires, St. Leonides Circle sponsored by St. Kateri Knights of Columbus Council 13677. Father Rice was also a Knight of Columbus for more than 30 years and served as the chaplain for the Paterson Federation for many years. At St. Kateri, there is also a chapter for Catholic young ladies, named the Squire Roses.

Maddox Corbin said, “Father Pat was an important part of the work with the Squires and the Squire Roses. He helped to serve the youth and the Knights of Columbus. He trained my brother and me to be altar servers and serve God.”

To honor the memory of Father Pat, a priest of the Diocese of Paterson for 41 years, the Corbin brothers decided to create a prayer garden. With the help of the St. Kateri Squires, the council is leading the special project to honor Father Rice, who also served at St. Thomas More Parish, Convent Station; Holy Spirit Parish, Pequannock; St. Francis DeSales Parish, Vernon; and St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Mountain Lakes.

With the blessing of Father Tom Fallone, pastor of St. Kateri, and assistance of the St. Kateri Knights, the Corbin boys developed a prayer garden outline. The prayer garden will be built adjacent to the window near the tabernacle in St. Kateri Church and include 10 prayer stones representing the Ten Commandments, three larger paver stones representing the Holy Trinity, two stone benches, a recently retired metal processional cross, a statue of the Blessed Mother and a Celtic cross to acknowledge Father Rice’s Irish heritage.

Hayden Corbin said, “We came up with the prayer garden to honor the great work and compassion that Father Pat left at St. Kateri. We felt the garden is a good reminder for his love and compassion for this church.”

Similar to an Eagle Project in the Boy Scouts, Columbian Squires participate in the National Squire Advancement project and the St. Kateri’s Squires’ project aligns with the Catholic mission and objectives of the program.

During the first week of August, Squire members and St. Kateri Knights worked on excavating the garden space. The project cost was about $1,200, which included the pavers, stone, sand and cement. The St. Kateri Knights helped fund part of the project along with parishioners and local organizations.

Father Fallone said, “We want to thank our Squires, Knights and all of the parishioners who’ve donated time and resources to this endeavor. The influence of Father Pat’s simple, reverent and priestly life spurred our Squires to commemorate his heroic pastoral work in this way. It’s stirring when you think about it — with the whole of our salvation history having its roots in a garden, the Garden of Eden, our Father Pat Prayer Garden honors this Covenant, whole also recognizing a good and faithful priest of Jesus Christ.”

Nick Cutrone, a member of the St. Kateri Knights and chief counselor for the St. Kateri Squires, said, “Father Pat was a huge advocate for our youth leadership program with the Squires and Squire Roses. Today, he looks down from heaven with pride on the accomplishments of young men like Hayden and Maddox Corbin.”

The garden will be dedicated following a memorial Mass for Father Rice in St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church on Aug. 27 at 11 a.m.

“This is a special tribute for a great priest,” Cutrone said. “His sisters from Ireland will be here to celebrate Father Pat’s life on Aug. 27. It’s emotional to see these young people plan and put so much thought into this garden. I am floored by their faith and dedication. Through their actions and leadership Hayden and Maddox are living the Squires motto ‘esto dingus,’ which means ‘be worthy.”

For any young men and women interested in becoming a Squire, they should inquire about it from their local Knights of Columbus Council. The Squire program at St. Kateri gets involved with different projects, which include events to help the homeless.

“We wanted to become squires because we wanted to serve the community and spread the word of Christ through community service, charity and the work of the Church,” Hayden Corbin said.

Maddox Corbin added, “I’m a squire because it’s all about helping other people have a better life more than what you have, get other people more involved in charity work and improve the world.”