Mt. Pleasant church to send Lenox angels to Newtown
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
In the days following the December mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., members of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Catholic Church in Mt. Pleasant talked about ways they could honor the memories of the victims of the tragedy.
On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, then drove to the nearby elementary school and killed 20 children of the ages of 6 and 7 and six adult educators while wounding two.
Lanza committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as first responders arrived.
In response, Jim Rudnick, vice chairman of Transfiguration's parish council, suggested the use of church funds to purchase China angel ornaments from the nearby Lenox Glass Factory Outlet, one for each of the elementary school victims, and hang them from a Christmas tree at the church.
“Everybody agreed it would be a good idea to do something in memory of the victims of that tragedy,” Rudnick said.
The parish council subsequently approved the purchase of the ornaments with parish funds, said Ann Rosky, the secretary of the parish council.
After the holidays passed, the group decided to send the ornaments to Newtown for distribution to the families of the victims.
“We wanted to do that to make the families of the victims aware that our hearts and prayers are with them even though we are many miles apart,” Rosky said.
Rosky and fellow church member Bonnie Malnak — who recently retired as an employee at Lenox — drove to the facility along state Route 31 in Mt. Pleasant Township to find what they were looking for, Rosky said.
“We go there for a lot of things, it's right there, it's local and their stuff is beautiful,” she said.
On the back of every angel appears the first name of one of the victims inscribed in gold at the hands of the parishioners.
“We just wanted to express our concern and compassion to those in Newtown and the victims of this tragedy,” said Dan Levendusky, chairman of the church's parish council. “There was nothing we could do to show them how we felt except for putting those names on these angels.”
During the holidays and into the new year, the ornamented tree served as a symbol of sympathy greeting those who entered the church's vestibule.
The Rev. Bruce Sleczkowski, the church's administrator, offered a blessing of the tree containing the angel ornaments on Dec. 22.
“We prayed for the people who lost their lives there and we also prayed for their parents, grandparents, family and friends,” Sleczkowski said. “We also prayed for the family of the person who killed these people.”
Sleczkowski said when he heard about the church members' plans to ship the ornaments to Newtown, he encouraged it.
“They just want the people in Newtown know that our prayers are with them, that we're thinking about them,” he said.
Newtown's top elected official, First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra, said she would be sure to carry out the wish of the church members and guide the angels where they wish them to go.
“I am very touched by the kindness and generosity of the members of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Catholic Church,” Llodra said. “To know that these specially named angels of Lenox glass have been part of the church's holiday tree and have been lovingly cared for, prayed to, and blessed by the church pastor further expresses the genuine love and sympathy of this church community for our Sandy Hook families.
“The Town of Newtown is very grateful for these thoughts and prayers. We will be sure to deliver the angels to the families and, on their behalf, we offer our sincere appreciation.”
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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