TENT OUT Parish celebrates Jewish roots and shows solidarity with refugees
Identical twins William Mazurkiewicz (left) and Joseph Mazurkiewicz, 7, peek into a tent set up outside Holy Spirirt Church for the parish's 'Tent Out' overnight gathering on July 8 in Winfield. Coordinated by Boy Scout troop 88, the educational event recreated aspects the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)
by MARLENE A. ZLOZA
Northwest Indiana Catholic
WINFIELD – The Israelites didn’t have Boy Scouts when they celebrated the Feast of Shelters established by Yahweh at St. Sinai, but lucky for Holy Spirit parish, it has Troop 88.
Boy Scout Troop 88, sponsored by the parish, erected a tent village on the church grounds Friday evening, July 8, as Holy Spirit observed its second annual overnight Tent Out to honor the traditional Jewish feast that recalls the booths or shelters the people lived in during the time they received the Ten Commandments at Sinai and extending through the rest of the Exodus experience.
“Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Booths, or Feast of Tabernacles – which means dwell in a tent – to recall when they left Egypt and had to live in tents until they got back to Jerusalem,” Father Tom Mischler, pastor at Holy Spirit, explained to the Boy Scouts during an opening flag ceremony. “(Even) the Ark of the Covenant was kept in a tent.”
Father Mischler added that the Tent Out event was also meant to show solidarity with and compassion for those forced to live in tents due to natural disasters or religious persecution. “We all know people who are forced out of their homes because of weather, and wars and disputes – like the people of Syria – and are sometimes exiled in tents,” Father Mischler said. “We do this in solidarity with them.”
John Vidal, a member of the Parish Activity Committee that organized the Tent Out as one of its monthly activities, said the committee thought the event “would be a natural for the Scouts.
“We are expecting about 60 people through the evening, with about half of them staying overnight,” Vidal added.
The Knights of Columbus provided the grills and the Boy Scouts were put in charge of cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for Friday’s dinner, provided along with chips and bottled water. “We wanted to keep it pretty simple in terms of food,” said organizer Alison Mazurkiewicz, going with the theme of a refugee experience.
“We are trying to experience how the homeless and the refugees experience life,” said Troop 88 Scoutmaster Bryan Beberino, adding that individual Scouts were also working on different badges for advancement, including Eagle Scout requirements.
The Boy Scouts collected firewood for a campfire and the promise of s’mores for dessert.
In terms of camping, Troop 88 members offered plenty of advice.
“The first priority is to set up your tent, so you can find out if you are missing a stake or anything. If you wait until it is dark, it makes it tough to find all the stuff you need,” said Boy Scout Eric Bender, 12, a seventh-grader at Boone Grove Junior-Senior High School. “Then look for firewood, collecting bigger logs for the base of your campfire, and then smaller branches on top to catch fire. I stuff paper and small sticks into the pile of wood and use my flint to light it, and keep feeding it small sticks until the logs catch.”
“Make sure you cover your (extra) firewood with a tarp,” added Boy Scout Andrew Mazurkiewicz, also 12 and a seventh-grader at Boone Grove Junior-Senior High School, whose advice came in handy last year when the inaugural Tent Out was held in the pouring rain.
Troop 88 Quartermaster Jackson Yagelski, 12, a seventh-grader at Wheeler Middle School who helped distribute extra tents to Tent Out participants and cooked, said of the Boy Scouts: “We’re here because of the fight for homes back in the day.”
After grace was said, Alison Mazurkiewicz led the group in prayer. “We are here for a purpose,” she emphasized. “Think about the Jewish tradition of the Feast of Shelters, about when they went to Jerusalem from Egypt and lived in sukkots (huts), and think of the other people who experience difficulties, natural disasters, and how they need help.
“When you are camping out tonight, think about all the people you love and adore, and how you would help them if something should happen here in our community.”
Noting that a cook out and overnight camping is “fun, and that’s good, too,” Father Mischler asked the campers to “pray for families forced to live in a tent without the other necessities of life, sometimes not knowing where their next meal will come from. Pray that God will take care of them, and make the world a better place for all of us to live.”
Boy Scouts Alexander Kobus, 14 (left), and Andrew Mazurkiewicz, 12, set up a tent outside Holy Spirirt Church for the parish's 'Tent Out' overnight gathering on July 8 in Winfield. Coordinated by Boy Scout troop 88, the educational event recreates aspects of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, commemorating pilgrimages and reliance on God. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)
Boy Scouts Eric Bender and Andrew Mazurkiewicz, both 12, set up a tent outside Holy Spirirt Church for the parish's 'Tent Out' overnight gathering on July 8 in Winfield. Coordinated by Boy Scout troop 88, the educational event recreates aspects the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, commemorating pilgrimages and reliance on God. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)