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Mardi Gras – a party for good causes

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By Kirsten Laskey

The purpose of Mardi Gras can be more than just a fun party. For instance, the Immaculate Heart of Mary is taking advantage of Fat Tuesday to raise money for two upcoming programs.Some of the proceeds will toward the Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanage in Honduras while another portion will be used to help pilgrims attend World Youth Day, Cathy Kohlrust, event coordinator, said.The Mardi Gras festivities and fundraising efforts will take place during the Mardi Gras Family Carnival from 4-7 p.m. Saturday at the parish hall.There will be games, and a maze for kids, a live band, a silent auction and food. Kohlrust encourages people to attend “because it’s going to be a fun time.”“We actually had a few comments last year about how nice it was for the parents, because the set up for the carnival allows parents to sit in the middle and chat with friends,” she said. “Meanwhile, their children can wander around to all of the games without moving out of sight, except in the maze, of course. So parents get to relax. Children have a great time. There's good food, good music. What more can you ask?”Plus, the proceeds go to good causes. “Both events can be really life changing for the young people that go on these trips,” Kohlrust said.The money from the event will benefit a mission trip to the Honduras orphanage that will be held from May 27-June 4. Seven high school students will be attending.Kohlrust said members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church have been traveling to the orphanage for the past 10 years. She explained church members Bob and Susie Fuselier introduced the church to the orphanage after they spent a year in Honduras.She explained there are Little Brothers and Sisters Orphanages throughout Central and South America. The orphanages will accept whole families in order to keep them together, Kohlrust said.While in Honduras, Kohlrust said the church group does a lot of hard labor such as building new rooms, cooking, cleaning. However, there are also opportunities to play with the children.“It’s a very meaningful experience for the kids who have gone down there,” she said.World Youth Day, which will be held July 2-22, offers young people another significant experience. Pope John Paul II started World Youth Day as a way to gather together young people from around the world.“Its purpose is to encourage young people in their faith and to further the cause of what Pope John Paul called new Evangelism,” Kohlrust said.The event has moved throughout the world. One year, it was held in Denver and another year, Cologne, Germany hosted World Youth Day.This year, it will take place in Sydney, Australia, and 24 people from Immaculate Heart of Mary Church will attend the event.“The places that have hosted (World Youth Day) have seen a profound effect on the faith life of people in the area,” she said.During World Youth Day, participants learn about faith and hold an overnight vigil before going to mass with Pope Benedict.The last time pilgrims from Immaculate Heart of Mary Church attended World Youth Day was in 2005.“The teens who come back (from World Youth Day) just really connected with the universality of the church,” Kohlrust said. “(They) got a real sense of how small the world is (and) grasped that everyone is important, no matter where they’re from, they are all reaching toward the same goals.”Admission to the carnival is free but tickets for games, food and activities will be three for $1.