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The Mandaeans are a pacifist ethno-religious minority population that believes in the purity and cleanliness of nature. pic:R.T.

April 30 – A Celebration of Mandaean Culture in Worcester!

Students at Clark University, in collaboration with Mandaean Society of Massachusetts, will host a cultural celebration featuring arts, music, photos and posters, as well as a proclamation from the City of Worcester, from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturday, April 30, in the Grace Conference Room of the Higgins University Center, 950 Main St.

The Mandaeans (Aramaic: people of knowledge) are a pacifist ethno-religious minority population that believes in the purity and cleanliness of man and nature. For the past 2,000 years, they have lived in Iraq and Iran, after originally emigrating there from Jerusalem. In the past two decades, they were displaced from Iraq and Iran as a result of extreme violence and persecution. Their religion predates Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Unable to defend themselves due to their pacifist religion, the 60,000 – 70,000 adherents were scattered throughout the world.

Since 2008, more than 2,000 were resettled to Worcester by Lutheran Services (Ascentria) and Dr. Breegi, a Mandaean community advocate, as a way to help the community rebuild itself. Yet, until now, they have remained largely unknown in Worcester due to linguistic and cultural challenges.

The hosting Clark students are enrolled in Local Action/Global Change, a course taught by Marianne Sarkis, assistant professor of International Development and Social Change. They spent the spring semester getting to know Mandaean residents from the area, their culture, religion, and traditions. The event is planned as a way to celebrate the resiliency and beauty of the Mandaean community. This event will be the first of its kind in Worcester, Sarkis said, adding that the Mandaeans are eager to share their culture, food, and music with others.


Youth Worker Training Institute 2016 Graduation Ceremony, May 2

The HOPE Coalition, with Clark University, will be sponsoring their 12th annual Youth Worker Training Institute Luncheon Graduation Ceremony from 11 a.m. – noon on Monday, May 2, at the Boys and Girls Club of Worcester, 65 Tainter St.

This year our 28 graduates are making great impact at the following crucial community organizations: Dynamy Youth Academy, Latino Education Institute, Positive Directions, Straight Ahead Ministries, Worcester Community Action Council, Boys & Girls Club, Cultural Exchange through Soccer, Worcester Youth Opportunities Office, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA, YOU, Inc., Girls Inc., and AIDS Project Worcester.

We are happy to announce that our keynote speaker for this year’s graduation will be Khrystian King, recently elected City of Worcester Councilor At-Large.

King has been an advocate for Worcester’s children, youth and families his entire life – beginning as a student leader of an anti-drug program at Holy Name. Ever since losing three friends to gun violence, King has dedicated his career to helping local families rise beyond poverty and violence – from his work in child protection to his nearly 20 years leading the Crompton Park Summer Basketball program.

A first-generation American, King graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in Sociology and Psychology and went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Simmons College and a Public Management & Leadership Certificate from the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University.

Other featured speakers include YWTI participants Scott Dowling from the city of Worcester’s Youth Opportunities Office and Cassie Giardina from Cultural Exchange through Soccer. In addition to the participants, the trainers for the Institute sessions, the supervisors and executive directors of participating agencies are also invited.

The Youth Worker Training Institute is a 15-week educational program to increase the knowledge and develop the skills of youth workers. This year marks our fourth year partnering with Clark University. Students are engaged in the YWTI as the primary component of their course, Fundamentals of Youth Work, taught by Jennifer Safford-Farquharson.

The addition of students as participants has provided an opportunity for newer, less experienced students to apprentice some of Worcester’s seasoned Youth Workers. UMass Memorial Health Care and Clark University funded the Youth Worker Training Institute.

Youth workers play an enormously important role in the lives of young people. Youth workers are role models, mentors, friends, big sisters and brothers, teachers, and sometimes even surrogate parents. Increasing the skills of youth workers is an important step towards reducing risky behavior in youth and ensuring that young people lead happy, healthy, productive, and safe lives.

With the leadership of Dr. Laurie Ross, the HOPE Coalition was created in October 2000 through a federal grant. HOPE’s mission is to reduce youth violence and substance abuse and to promote positive mental health and youth voice through a youth-adult partnership in the city of Worcester. The Youth Worker Training Institute is one of HOPE’s three programs. The other two are a peer leadership program and a youth-designed mental health program.

HOPE consists of seventeen organizations, including the seven YouthNet agencies (Boys and Girls Club, Centro Las Americas, Friendly House, Girls Inc, YMCA, YOU, Inc, and the YWCA), Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center, MSPCC, UMass Memorial Health Care (lead agency), the Worcester Youth Center, Community HealthLink, Oak Hill CDC, Worcester Community Connections Coalition, the City of Worcester and the Worcester Public Schools. Twenty peer leaders representing these organizations meet weekly to lead the planning process.


Rosaries are often left at the St. Mary’s church shrine in Green Island as a gift to the Virgin Mary.

Putting a rosary into the hands of every member of the U.S. Armed Forces around the globe who wants one!

Operation Ranger Rosary will hold their next meeting on May 14, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church, and 551 Pleasant St., Worcester.


MADD Pushes for Ignition Interlock Law Before May 2 Deadline

Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Colleen Sheehey-Church joined volunteers this week to urge legislators to pass drunk driving legislation that would immediately start saving lives on Massachusetts roadways.

The legislation, S 1895 by Senator Timilty, would require all drunk driving offenders to use an ignition interlock if they seek driving privileges during a license suspension period.

Currently, Massachusetts requires ignition interlocks for repeat offenders and makes hardship licenses available during the suspension period.

The Joint Committee on Transportation, chaired by Senator McGee and Representative Straus, has a May 2 deadline to pass S 1895.

Twenty-five states have similar laws, including New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. Maryland recently passed an all-offender ignition interlock law that is expected to be signed by Governor Hogan in May. Vermont and Rhode Island are considering such legislation this year — H 560 has passed the Vermont House and received a Senate hearing earlier this month, and SB 2370 passed the Rhode Island Senate this month and is pending a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

“Ignition interlocks save lives,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “It’s time for Massachusetts to pass this law to protect its residents from this scourge on our nation’s roadways. S 1895 is long overdue and deserves a vote before it’s too late.”
According to a recent MADD report, ignition interlocks have prevented drunk drivers from starting their vehicles 37,983 times since Massachusetts began requiring the devices for repeat offenders in 2006.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD changed American culture by introducing the “designated driver” in 1986 and related red ribbon awareness campaign Tie One On For Safety® now in its 30th year. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® is marking its 10th anniversary and reducing drunk driving fatalities by 25 percent since its launch.

MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, providing a service every four minutes through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP.

Power of Parents® and Power of Youth® programs reduce underage drinking. Learn more by visiting madd.org or calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.



Early pricing for REC Farmers Gala ends
Spring Menu, Beer Tasting, Live Music, Silent and Live Auctions!

$60 before May 1

Amazing auction items include: Ringo Starr tickets, Dirty Dancing tickets, Costa Rica vacation villa, BBQ Party for 30 of your friends, diamond earrings, a whole lamb, wine and beer baskets, Bravehearts baseball tickets, Wachusett ski passes, dance classes, gardening workshops, museum memberships, restaurant gift cards, and so much more!

Menu includes: Farm-fresh cheeses, Serrano ham wrapped asparagus, Gruyere grougeres, Roasted lemon-sage chicken pops, Spring herb risotto, Garden vegetable lasagna, Strawberry rhubarb and chevre croustade.

Also enjoy our full, cash-only bar, the sounds of local musician Dan Burke, and the beautiful grounds of the Tower Hill Botanic Garden.

All proceeds support the work of the REC – community and school gardens, farmers markets, urban agriculture, youth development and employment, neighborhood cleanups, and the development of a regional food hub.

When: Thursday May 19 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

At Tower Hill Botanic Garden
11 French Drive
Boylston, MA

Help make rosaries for our soldiers

Putting a rosary into the hands of every member of the U.S. Armed Forces around the globe who wants one.

 Operation Ranger Rosary will hold their next meeting on December 13, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Phelan Center, Blessed Sacrament Church, and 551 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA. 01602. 

Cecelia M Mason

Have Jesus – will travel!



By Rosalie Tirella

This fairly large statue (now home in my kitchen) belonged to my Polish Bapy and was handed down to me when she died years ago. Its history is especially heart-warming on this snowy day: When my Bapy and my grandfather lived in Green Island, on Bigelow Street, in the 1930s, there used to be a travelling icon salesman. Worcester’s old ethnic neighborhoods, filled with religious immigrants who missed their “Old Country” and how their lives there revolved around God and their church, had these Jesus, Mary and Joseph peddlers who went door to door selling all kinds of icons. You’d order your statue from these guys, usually cast in plaster of Paris, then pay 5 cents down on it each week to the travelling icon salesman when he stopped by your house to collect your pennies and to try to sell more icons to you or your neighbors! After you paid up your 50 cents, $1, $2, etc, the statues of Saint Joseph, Saint Anthony, Saint Theresa were yours.

It was the heart of the Great Depression, and Polish immigrants like my grandparents didn’t have a lot of dough.  But my Bapy fell in love with this Jesus and Mary statue, complete with holy water bowl and wooden (now replaced) cross on top. And my grandfather, who was deeply in love with my pretty granny for the 50+ years (!) they were married and who worked in the textile mills in Dudley, wanted to get her this fairly big statue – almost like what you’d find in their church! – as a special gift. (They were married on Valentine’s Day! So they could be very romantic with each other!)

My Bapy never kept her holy water, blessed by the Bishop, in the holy water bowl of this icon, which now sits by my back door and says “goodbye” to me, “blesses” me through my grandmother’s love, EVERY DAY as I head out my kitchen to run InCity Times. My dumpling-shaped, feisty, little granny (she was only 4′ 10″ tall!) kept her holy water in a special plastic holy water bottle, also blessed by the Bishop, literally by her side, tucked under one of the pillows, of the dumpy, lumpy easy chair she used to sit on – at the head of the kitchen table. My grandfather planted it there for her so she could be in the middle of all the familial action, and when he died and she moved in with my mom and us kids, my mom planted that same dumpy chair at the head of OUR kitchen table so she could lord it all over us!

Bapy kept one of her many rosaries in the holy water bowl of the statue. I don’t know where that rosary is at the moment. But today I have my late mom’s religious medals in the bowl, along with a wooden cross. At the foot of the statue, to the right, you see the oval, metal Jesus plaque my mother used to have nailed into the kitchen door of our Lafayette Street apartment – a blessing for all who entered or left our flat. Jesus, keep us all safe as we go to work, school and church and make our way through our Green Island!, the plaque seemed to say to all.


To the left, at the bottom of the statue, is a little World War II photo of my late Uncle Stan on his battle ship. He was in the US Navy and can be seen here, with his ship’s mascot, a little lab/terrier dog, the kind of feisty boy you’d need in a fierce battle! I put the photo there a year ago to remember my uncle.


In my old apartment, I used to keep this huge icon in my bedroom, on a bureau, and light candles all around it at night. The Church of Rose, Perpetual Bleeding Heart. Very soothing … and romantic … .

But these days I like it in my kitchen where I can enjoy it while doing the most mundane stuff: drinking my coffee or tea, taking Jett out to pee or shit – just running my day in the simplest, best way I know how. It makes me feel good … about my beloved Bapy, my quiet, good natured Polish granddad who only spoke a handful of English words til the day he died, my late sweet sweet mom, my Green Island upbringing, Catholicism, being a second-generation American, and my writing life today.

(Below: ICT Editor Rosalie as a little kid with her beloved Bapy in their Green Island kitchen.)