St. Edward Church offers its first Blessing of the Bikes

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Wed., Jun. 26, 2013
Father David Kashen reads from the Gospel of Mark prior to blessing the bikes. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Father David Kashen reads from the Gospel of Mark prior to blessing the bikes. Photos by Annie Gentile.

Kristofer Stark was only 21 when he died in June 2006 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, but his memory lives on in an annual scholarship that supports a Catholic school education at St. Edward Church in Stafford Springs.

While several fundraisers - bakes sales, car washes and plant sales - have been held throughout the years, this year marked the first Blessing of the Bikes fundraiser, and it is a tradition the Stark family hopes to continue and grow each year. The timing is also appropriate, as this is the time of year when bicyclists, motorcyclists and those on motor scooters are out on the roads in greater numbers, and extra caution should be paid by everyone who is out and about.

Kristofer’s mother, Laurel Stark, said the St. Edward Church community has always been there for her family, which includes her husband Michael and daughters Karaline Stark and Katie Santa and her husband, and they are all grateful for the ongoing support and work with fundraising efforts. “This is family here,” Laurel Stark said.

Katie Santa said it was a former St. Edward teacher, Wendy Hopkins, who “got the ball rolling” for a scholarship shortly after her brother’s death. “All three of us [Stark siblings] went to this church and school. It really was an irreplaceable experience,” said Santa. “My brother was ‘Mr. Social,’ so I really feel like he is probably looking down at us today and smiling. He always felt happiest and best when he was riding his bike, so I know he would like this.”

“We usually give out six to eight scholarships a year,” said Mary Ann Pelletier, principal of St. Edward School, who came up with the Blessing of the Bikes fundraising idea. She said she was glad that St. Edward’s pastor, Father David Kashen, agreed to do the blessing, suggesting with a smile that he might just harbor a bit of interest in owning a bike himself. “The student council runs the various fundraisers and for some of the families that attend here, the scholarship really makes a difference for them,” Pelletier said.

Kashen, who was installed as the church’s pastor about a year ago, and who has been with St. Edward for four and a half years, started off the event with a reading from the Gospel of Mark, adding a special blessing, followed by a barbecue chicken dinner.

“For all those who ride their bikes, whether it be for business or pleasure, may they always find Christ to be their companion on their journey,” said Kashen.

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