Celebrating fifty years of mission support
It began as a fun way to raise mission funds, was transformed by a basket, and has now flowered into a tradition, anticipated by students and parents, and revered by alumni.
Our Lady of Consolation School in Carey, Ohio, hosted its 50th (at least) Mission Fair on Friday March 21st. While it originated with an initiative of the Diocese of Toledo, even at the beginning most of the money supported Conventual Franciscan Missions. Today, all the money goes to the Franciscan Mission Association, which is based in Carey.
Carol O’Reilly (OLC Class of ’64, now teaching 7th grade) participated in the Fair as a student, and became the school’s Diocesan Mission Coordinator when she began teaching. After a trip to Zimbabwe, the priest from the Diocese who ran the Mission Office gave Carol a handmade basket that poor women there were making to try to earn money.
“The Zimbabwe Basket is what keeps me going,” Carol said. “It reminds me how fortunate we are, and how much we need to give others.”
For many years, Carol headed the Mission Fair team, but over the past few years handed the responsibility off to two other teachers: Susan Damschroder (4th grade), and Carol’s daughter Kate O’Reilly (1st Grade).
“It goes from 12:30 to 2:45 – two hours of fun and craziness,” said Kate. “We set up the entire gym with games.”
“We also have candy concessions and a jail for the teachers who get arrested during the Fair,” said Susan. “People come back every year, alums come to work or bring their kids. It’s open to anyone in the community who wants to come.”
Then there’s the tradition of the Mission Fair Flowers. They’re completely handmade out of colored tissue paper. But only the 7th-graders get to make them. It’s become a rite of passage. They cost 40¢ for years, but in honor of the anniversary, they are now 50¢.
“There’s a missionary consciousness here, a strong connection to the Friars,” said Fr. John Stowe, OFM Conv., Pastor and Rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. “Fr. Al Jacoby and Br. Tony Droll in Zambia, and Fr. Michael Brown and Fr. Mark Weaver who were in Central America – all four grew up in this parish. Fr. Terence Tobin from Marion and Br. Joe Weissling from Findlay both spent many years in Zambia.
“It’s great for the kids to have fun and learn about the realities of the missions. And they can interact with missionaries who live here now like Br. Joe and Br. Bryan Hoban who was in Zambia for many years.”
Principal Judy Hall says the Mission Fair fits with the mission of the school.
Service to the Community and the Much Larger World
Hannah Zimmerman ran a penny challenge for the students as her Starfish Project in preparation for Confirmation.