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Two students use leadership skills, cookies to help build Holy Rosary's choir for teens

Three years ago Patti Spry approached two teens about attending a Youth in Theology and Ministry camp and the results continue to grow each year.

Spry, youth minister at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Detroit Lakes, asked Sydney Henderson and Tiffany Wirtz to attend the leadership summer camp at St. John's School of Theology Seminary.

"They talk about community service and projects for our church," Henderson said.

She and Wirtz decided to start a choir for high schoolers at their church. There was a children's choir already, but a missing spot for teenagers. They started calling every student in 9-12th grade at the church, asking them to come check it out.

"We were begging them to come with cookies," she said with a laugh of their bribery.

Only about half a dozen students showed up for the first meeting. It was a little disheartening, but Henderson and Wirtz, both seniors now, didn't give up.

"They never gave up," Spry said of the two students. "They just kept at it."

Three years later, the choir has grown to about 40 students, and they have performed at mass, the senior citizen prom and during a trip to Rome, including with an audience at the Vatican for the pope.

"We just kept calling," Henderson said. "They just told friends, who told friends, who told friends."

And not only has the choir grown, but a youth group has formed because of it as well. About one to two hours before the choir would practice, the kids would get together, do homework and just talk, Henderson said.

Other youth ministries, like ushering and reading for example, have also grown since the inception of the choir.

"It introduced kids to all the possibilities in the church," Henderson said.

The second year Henderson and Wirtz went to the summer YTM camp, they gave a presentation on the choir and its growth.

"Two young ladies going to camp, came back and used their skills to help develop (the choir). That says volumes for these two young ladies," Spry said.

In May 2007, Father Jerry Rogers was talking to the teens about Catholicism asked who would be interested in traveling to Rome.

"You will never find a bigger supporter of these kids than Father Jerry," Spry said.

Although it wasn't exclusive to the choir students, mainly choir students went on the trip. Another trip is planned, with an upcoming meatball dinner to help with the cost.

"There will definitely be a little bit more flare," Spry said of the upcoming trip. "You talk about it and then you see it."

The Holy Rosary youth meatball dinner is Sunday, Sept. 14, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in St. John's Hall. Cost is $7 for adults and $4 for children 8 years old and under. Proceeds will go to youth pilgrimage and mission trips. Tickets may be purchased at the Parish office or at the dinner.