Saints will come alive again at St. Emma Monastery this month

By Maria Guzzo
Contributing Writer

October 13, 2022 – GREENSBURG – Last October, like a lot of other young people, Ashton Kenwick, 16, spent hours creating an outfit and perfecting the character he’d depict during a seasonal gathering with school friends.

Kenwick, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Greensburg, last year portrayed St. John the Apostle and Evangelist at the first Lantern Saints Tour, which was coordinated by the Greensburg-Catholic Schoolhouse and presented to the public on the lantern-lit pathways of the St. Emma Monastery grounds in Greensburg.

“It was a beautiful way of showcasing the saints,” said Donna Sunseri, a director with Greensburg-Catholic Schoolhouse, which assists homeschool families with curriculum and weekly gatherings.  “Everyone was learning about the saints, and they wanted to share it with the community and really get away from the secularized ideal of Halloween.”

Instead, the tour honors the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, which fall on Nov. 1 and 2.

Last year’s hourlong walking tour drew more of a crowd than expected, so Sunseri said Mother Mary Anne Noll, prioress of St. Emma Monastery, suggested they expand to two nights this year.

Proceeds from the tour, set for 4-8 p.m. Oct. 28 and Oct. 29, benefit the monastery.

Homeschoolers who are part of the Greensburg-Catholic Schoolhouse, along with some St. Emma sisters and a few clergy from the Diocese of Greensburg, will portray various saints in costume.

Kenwick said he spent hours last year memorizing the script he wrote after sourcing information about St. John and creating an exciting presentation for guests, which include seniors, adults and children. 

“I think everyone who attends the saint walk is able to learn so much about all these saints,” Ashton said. “No matter how much you think you know about the history of our faith, there’s always something new you will learn when you attend the saint walk.”

Greensburg-Catholic Schoolhouse strives to offer a classical Catholic education and build Catholic culture within the families, Sunseri said. In addition to at-home lessons, the 45 students from 18 families attend Mass Wednesdays at St. John Baptist de La Salle Parish, Delmont, and meet afterward for a variety of supplemental enrichment classes. The saints tour is an offshoot of this effort.

While avoiding Halloween’s typical gore, the Lantern Saints Tour will have elements of the secular festival-like costumes and seasonal treats, but may still contain some thrills and chills since the lives of the saints were not all bright and sunny.

“We empowered (the students) to come up with all their own props and dialogue and really take ownership,” said Sunseri. “For example, the girl who portrayed Joan of Arc last year created simulated fire since she was burned at the stake.”

Kenwick said he absorbed a lot.

“Educationally, I learned about the past and where our beliefs came from and the differences and similarities of how things are now,” he said. “Spiritually, I found myself relating to all the trials and hardships these people had to go through to be able to show their faith in Jesus. I also felt closer to God as I helped to spread these stories and His Gospel to people of all ages.”

If you would like to attend the Lantern Saints Tour:

Where: St. Emma Monastery, 1001 Harvey Ave., Greensburg 

When: 4-8 p.m. Oct. 28-29

What: One-hour tour, with groups leaving every 15 minutes, honoring the feasts of All Saints and All Souls with live saint portrayals

Donation: $10 ($5 for students, free for children 12 and under)

Information: Donna Sunseri, [email protected] or 724-961-0224


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