Ask the Bishop: Summer Camp Edition

Straight from Camp Nazareth, it’s Ask the Bishop!

Bishop Sean discusses the hot button issues of General Convention, the buzz generated by Presiding Bishop Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding, and his favorite part of summer camp below.

Diocesan Summer Camp 2018 “Seek the Truth”

Do you like to swim, play sports and games, make crafts, hike, climb a ropes course, or make new friends? If you do, our Diocesan Summer Camp has something for you and more!

Camp is for students who have completed 2nd through 12th grade. Three separate programs are run during the week. Kids Camp is 2nd to 5th grade. Middle School Camp is 6th to 8th grade. High School Camp is 9th to 12th grade.

Camp will take place from June 10 – 16 at Camp Nazareth. The theme this year is “Seek the Truth.” Campers will work in small groups for bible study, discussion, and activities. Worship happens daily.

Camp Nazareth is located in Mercer, PA. It is surrounded by forest with well-marked hiking trails. The camp’s amenities include a pool, basketball court, softball field, high and low ropes course, a chapel, and cabins with showers and bathrooms inside. Each cabin is staffed by adult counselors. Our staff is drawn from volunteers across the diocese.

The cost per camper is $345. However, the first 100 registrations received or postmarked by May 29 will receive a $65 scholarship to reduce the fee to $280.

Registration and deposit payment may be made online at If registering online, adults will still need to print, sign, and send the consent forms with their child to camp. A camp brochure, consent form if registering online, and printable application form are available to download at the camp website.  Please contact Dennis Blauser at 724-699-3747 or for more information.

Camp is the best week of the summer! We hope that you’ll be a part of it.

Episcopal Youth Event

Every three years, the Episcopal Church hosts an Episcopal Youth Event (EYE) for high school students. This is an international event, bringing youth, their adult leaders, Bishops, and volunteers from across the world together for a few days of worship, speakers, and workshops. EYE takes place this summer, July 10-14 on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, OK. There is expected to be 1,300 youth present for the event.

Our diocese will be represented by nine students: Sierra Adrover and Mari Holben from St. Mark’s in Erie, Josie Noyes and Paul Hoffer from the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie, Abby and Sarah Wheeler from Resurrection Church in Hermitage, Aaron and Andrew Scott from St. James in Titusville, and Stephen Covington from Memorial Church of Father in Foxburg. Fr. Denny Blauser and I will be accompanying the youth to the event.

We are looking forward to a great trip! It is our hope that the students will engage in all that the event has to offer, make new connections around the world, and experience God in new and transforming ways.

DioNWPA EYE group, 2014

You can follow what our delegation gets up to in Oklahoma on the Diocesan Formation Facebook and Twitter accounts: @dionwpaformation.  You can also follow the National Church’s social media for the event: Facebook, @EpiscopalYouthEvent and Twitter, @episcoyouth.

As always, please keep us in your prayers as we prepare, travel, and participate!

Missy Greene is the Christian Formation Associate for St. Stephen’s, Fairview. 

From Camper to Counselor

I served as a camp counselor at Camp Nazareth this past summer, and it was an experience like no other. Now, I am not a newbie to Camp Nazareth, as I had attended it the past 11 years as a camper, making countless memories. But this summer was a whole new experience.

The first new experience that I gathered during the week was the method of getting there. Ever since I was in middle school I was always envious of the older kids who could drive themselves to camp, which led to me telling myself that that would one day be me. Well, the day of camp I packed my sister (who is now a freshman in college) and myself into the 2006 Dodge Vibe I had over the summer, and away we went. The changes in my duties were evident as soon as I got there. When I was a camper I could afford to be aloof for most of the week, focusing only the task at hand. That isn’t the case for counselors, however, as not only did we have to focus on planning on the tasks, but we also were in change of keeping track of our campers, which for me meant a group of energetic 2nd-5th graders.

The change was evident from the start, as I had to wake up early to wake up the campers (which was very tough, I enjoy my sleep). I was also introduced to the task of planning events very quickly, as I spent most of the morning on the first day helping Melinda (the kids’ camp leader) plan the day. During the afternoon on the first day was when I truly felt like a counselor, however, as I got to sit back and enjoy the madness of the all-camp activity as an observer, which I didn’t mind at all.

The week overall was one that was filled with new experiences along with new twists on old ones. It was really cool to see an event that I helped plan not only go off without a hitch, but also to see people enjoy doing it. This doesn’t mean that I was an observer in everything, however, as I was still able to participate in the annual Frisbee game (which my team won) and I also helped lead the Counselors to a win in the camper vs. counselor volleyball game, something that I’m very proud of.

Probably one of the toughest transitions that I had to make was the actual transition from camper to counselor. Going straight from camper to counselor meant that a lot of my close friends were still campers, so sometimes it was tempting to go hang out with them, since I had been doing so for most of my time at camp. But luckily, I was busy enough to not have that be a focus.

I hadn’t had any real big contact with kids’ camp in close to 10 years, so everything that I did as a counselor was still relatively new to me. While some of the stuff that we did in teen camp was some variations of what kids’ camp did, it wasn’t the same, so I had some new experiences just like the campers.

Overall, being a counselor was a great experience, and one that I’m honored to do again this year. It not only taught me a lot about camp, but also a lot about myself.

Henry Palattella is a sophomore at Kent State University and a member of the Cathedral of St. Paul. 

This year’s Diocesan Summer Camp runs from June 11-17. You can learn more about camp and register for this year by visiting the new camp website,

‘Go Forth In The World’ by Nina Palattella

Welcome to a new series where we will hear from Nina Palattella about her experience as a Christian in her senior year of High School.  Nina will write a blog post about once a month over the course of the school year. This is her fourth installment.  Click here to see the others.

Hello and welcome to my fourth blog post! I hope that everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday season. I spent a good amount of time with my family, both those who live in my city and those who have traveled in for the occasion.

For this post, I wanted to explore an aspect of life that is central to the Christian faith and often emphasized throughout the holiday season for all: charitable giving and volunteering. Whether in terms of volunteer work, financial donations made directly to the church, or the donation of one’s time and resources to help another person, charitable giving is a cornerstone of the Christian tradition, as well as in other religions. The amount which it is considered appropriate to tithe is widely debated; a quick Google search of the subject retrieves almost three hundred thousand results, each presumably with their own suggestions. One such suggestion I can recall being tossed around over the years is that each member of the church should donate ten percent of his or her income, but there are many cases when ten percent would be asking far too much, and others in which the same amount seems insignificant. I’ve matured considerably both as a person and as a Christian since I was first introduced to this hypothesis, and sometimes I can’t help but wonder how Jesus might have imagined his teachings as they apply to modern economics.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 4.13.37 PMI have recently had two personal experiences with charitable giving at work: in late November, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Erie City Mission with my youth group, The Vine. According to its website (, the organization is one of 275 nationally associated “Gospel Rescue Missions;” unlike government entities, rescue missions can attend to local needs without requiring a community-wide consensus to do their work. I had a general idea of the help the City Mission provided in the community—I knew that they hosted community dinners, I was aware that they offered temporary shelter for those in need—but until this visit I woefully underestimated the scope of their programs and the commitment they require. Not including the meals that are provided to program participants, the website states that the organization provides “3 meals [a day], 363 days of the year, to more than 151,000 women, children, and men.” Our group was taken through one of the dormitories for the emergency men’s shelter—it was sparse, but astonishingly clean, thanks to the meticulous laundry and hygiene regiments that are demanded of the individuals who stay there. The shelter can house up to 56 men for a maximum of 60 nights per person; if, 30 days after the original 60 days ended, a former resident is still in need of shelter, he may reapply for an extended stay. I had not known about this policy, and the generosity of it struck me. In addition, the organization has rehabilitation programs that range in length from eight months to one year, with emphasis on spirituality, overcoming addiction, and becoming reconnected to the community. The City Mission has several campuses in and around the city that offer ministries for children and women as well, which are in high demand but shorter supply around the city. Learning about the extent of the City Mission’s efforts made me realize that, in order to better a community, it takes the effort of the entire community.

Because I am off of school and he is home from college, my brother and I were able to volunteer at my church’s food pantry distribution. This distribution happens on one morning every week; it is usually on Friday, but because of the New Year, this past week it was changed to Tuesday. The regular volunteers told us that they had been distributing an average of 90 bags in recent weeks, and they told us that they were predicting an attendance of at least eighty for this week. Before the distribution started, I assisted in dividing fifty pounds of individually wrapped candy bars into bags of ten, and then I was assigned to a table where I was charged with handing out said candy, as well as jars of peanut butter and boxes of raisins. By the time my brother and I left almost two hours later, we had served only forty-five clients. However, just because our efforts directly benefitted fewer people than in the past doesn’t mean that they were wasted; every person whom we served was kind and polite; many of them thanked us and enthusiastically wished the volunteers and other patrons a happy holiday. I saw a connection between this experience and my thoughts on donations described at the beginning of this post—I believe that the number of people you help matters less than your effort to do so. Jesus calls his followers to “go forth in the world” and make a difference in His name, and if we are trying our best to heed his words, then I think that we will find ourselves on a path that He would find acceptable.

Nina Palattella

The Vine’s Winter/Spring Schedule Is Out

The Vine is a community for youth in 6th-12th grade and a collaborative ministry of the Episcopal churches in Erie County. The Vine will meet twice a month for dinner, conversation, activities, and prayer. Service, outreach, and mission will also be incorporated during the year, as well as overnights and social events.


WINTER/SPRING 2016 Schedule

Meeting:     Sunday, January 10 from 4:30 – 6 pm at the Cathedral

Meeting:     Sunday, January 24 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Mark’s Church

Meeting:     Sunday, February 7 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Stephen’s Church

Cooking Outreach Dinner:     Saturday, February 20 from 10 am – ? at the Cathedral We’ll be chopping, mixing, baking, making a mess.

Serving Outreach Dinner:     Sunday, February 21 from 2:30 pm – 6 pm at the Cathedral We’ll be serving up some grub. Come ready to work.

Mini-Mission Trip:     *6th grade – 12th grade only* Saturday, March 12 (probably around 10 am) thru Sunday March 13 (maybe 3 pm)
More info on this soon.

Meeting:     Sunday, April 10 from 4:30 – 6 pm at the Cathedral

Meeting:     Sunday, April 24 from 4:30 – 6 pm at St. Mark’s Church

Something Fun:      Saturday, May 7 (probably around 6 pm – 8 pm)

Meeting:      Sunday, May 22 from 4:30 – 6 pm (not sure where)


For heaven’s sake, do this now:
Are you getting the e-news? Contact AJ Noyes (

Did you like us on Facebook?
Have you seen our website?

Do you follow us on twitter?

Do you receive text messages from The Vine through

  • App name: Remind101
  • Subscribe by texting @747ff to 81010.
  • It will send a follow up message asking for your name, just so we know who has subscribed.
  • All you have to do to unsubscribe is to text the word “unsubscribe” to 81010

Missy Greene: 814.323.2434

AJ Noyes: 814.440.2618

Craig Dressler: 814.490.5062

‘Balance’ by Nina Palattella

Welcome to a new series where we will hear from Nina Palattella about her experience as a Christian in her senior year of High School.  Nina will write a blog post about once a month over the course of the school year. This is her third installment.  Click here to see the others.

Hello there and thank you for coming back for my third blog post! I have been enjoying the beginning of my break from school for Thanksgiving, and I hope that the unofficial beginning of the winter holiday season has been kind to all the readers out there. I am still entrenched in schoolwork and preparations for my quickly approaching future. I have been accepted to three of the schools to which I have applied, and even received my scholarship offer for one, should I choose to attend that school; I have two applications still left to complete, and four more currently awaiting a decision. This past weekend I attended a musical production at an area high school, spent a night with my close friends, performed at my high school’s open house as a member of the Vocal Jazz ensemble, and went on a tour of the Erie City Mission with my youth group, which I plan to describe in more detail as a part of my next blog post.

Now that I’ve written all that out, it seems like a lot. I did have a lot of activity going on that weekend, but to say that it was abnormally busy would be stretching the truth. The same can be said of the vast majority of my friends and peers at my high school, who supplement their already challenging academic workloads with extracurriculars such as sports, theater, music, and community or religious service activities. Though the topic of this post is particularly relevant to teens and youth, especially in stacking-669065_1280the midst of the ever-hectic holiday season, I think that is relevant to all ages: describing my ongoing quest to create a balanced life in an often unbalanced world.

The search for balance is a constant topic of discussion on social levels ranging from international to interpersonal to explicitly personal: the balance of a particular country’s involvement in the affairs of others; work-life balance; for many students, it can mean finding a balance between school and additional activities that allows them to complete all their assignments while still making time for jobs, friends, and the things in life that they enjoy. Finding the “perfect” balance would mean being able to realistically achieve these goals without having to feel stressed or worried about whether they would get done. If such a perfect balance exists, I am sad to report that I have yet to find it, and unfortunately, I know few people who might say that they have, either.

One of the most useful pieces of advice concerning this subject came from my father; I think he may have first said it to me while I was in middle school, but it has only become more relevant as I’ve gotten older. I was fretting about the amount of work I had to complete for school the next day; I wanted everything to be done perfectly even at that age, and on that particular day I was worried that my standard of perfection wasn’t going to be attainable. My father, in his often understated wisdom, said to me something along the lines of: “You have to realize that there are the things that you have to do well, and the things that you just need to get done.”

There is only so much time in each day in which to do all the things I need to do or that I feel I need to do, and to be able to complete them all—not even thinking of their quality—requires some serious budgeting of time. And, as always, in addition to the necessities that feel like chores—school, homework, college application essays, cleaning the bathrooms every weekend, and such—there are other personal necessities to be attended to, such as finding the time to hang out with friends, practice my guitar, read a novel, or write a short story. My break from school for Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up on all of these (as well as sleep) with less interruption than usual. What I didn’t factor in, however, was that the holiday offered its own set of distractions; my brother came home from college, so I’ve been spending more time with him, as well as with both my immediate and extended family. I attended a church service with my father on Thanksgiving morning and was privileged to be in the company of members of our regular congregation as well as several visiting clergy. My mother and I ventured to the mall to unofficially begin our Christmas shopping. I didn’t plan for any of these activities to interrupt my usual schedule, but I don’t regret spending the time it took to do any of them.

I think that is the most important lesson I’ve learned in my ongoing effort to balance my life: the perfect balance looks different for every day of the year. Some days are harder to get through than others, when everything I do feels like work; others feel like a relief, when the most pressing thing I have to do is enjoy the company of the people around me. Thankfully, most days have at least a little bit of both, and if that’s the best shot at “balance” that I have right now, then I’ll take it.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post and maybe even received a bit of helpful advice; feel free to leave any comments below and enjoy the start of the winter season!

Nina Palattella

“Youth Group and Christian Outreach” by Nina Palattella

Welcome to a new series where we will hear from Nina Palattella about her experience as a Christian in her senior year of High School.  Nina will write a blog post about once a month over the course of the school year. This is her second installment.  Click here to see the first one.

Hello again and thank you for joining me for my second blog post! I hope you have all had a swell month. My time has been occupied by the beginnings of college applications and lots of essays as my senior year of high school has progressed in full force. In addition to the new school year, the arrival of the fall season also brings a new year for my youth group, which led me to the idea to make this post about Christian outreach. I would suggest that any teens and youth in the audience especially stick around for this one—make yourself comfortable and stay a while!

11954753_482870405213312_9168523237462758084_nWhen I was younger, I participated in youth programs that were specific to my church, such as Sunday school and Rite 13, our small teen fellowship group; last year, program leaders from three churches in the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania in my area, including my own, banded together with the idea to combine the youth groups from the three churches into one “Episcopal community for youth” known as The Vine; the group takes its name from a verse in the Gospel—“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 5:15). Anyone from those churches (and any friends who are invited and always welcome to join) in middle school through twelfth grade can participate in the group’s biweekly meetings that may include mission trips, fun outings or overnight gatherings.

While the three congregations mentioned above constitute the roots of the group (pun somewhat intended), other churches in the diocese have helped the group and our mission, whether by spending time with our group, hosting us in their parishes, or simply by expressing their support, and with their help the impact that our work 11081471_421588111341542_4785778058643413919_ncan have reaches far beyond the limits of our central congregations. This past March, the Vine took a “mini-mission” trip to Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brookville, PA. I had never visited the small parish before, and I was stunned by the beauty of the church building; the wood in the church’s interior needed some restoration, and after the volunteers from Erie exchanged greetings with the members of Holy Trinity who would be joining us for the morning, we began our task, armed with buckets of polish and rags with which to do our work. It was nice to have a job that gave some degree of instant gratification—after a few minutes of polishing, the walls, pews and altars had a shiny, richer color; they felt smoother and better equipped to endure decades of more worship. Once we had completed our labor, we were given a tour of the surrounding small town, and took part in a variety of activities, including a short late-night worship service and a movie. The next morning, the approximately twenty members of The Vine joined the regular Sunday congregation at Brookville for a spirited worship service led by Rev. Melinda Hall, a great preacher and friend whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know for the past few years at summer camp.

11406955_850522778357978_5965102601537077651_nSpeaking of summer camp, this is a great time to mention that, while youth groups are likely the most common way that young people can get involved in their church and its ministry, they are by no means the only way. Each summer, I attend an overnight camp for Episcopal youth who have completed grades two through twelve, the majority of whom are from the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Throughout the week, campers participate in many religious activities, such as daily Eucharist, program sessions based on that day’s Gospel lesson, and a Taizé service; in addition, the camp offers a variety of activities that are just plain fun, like hiking, crafts, 4 Square, and night swims (which is just about the coolest thing you could possibly imagine when you’re ten years old). It’s an excellent place where kids can get to know their religion, teens can explore how their personal faith is important to them, and everyone gets to build a community with each other that will remain after the week has ended.

Though not every church may possess these opportunities exactly, each church has something to offer in terms of outreach, whether that means volunteering at community dinners or food pantries, handing out bulletins before the service, or simply getting to know some of the people whom you see every Sunday—but it doesn’t have to stop there or be just that. I’ve learned from the experiences described above and others that some of the best Christian outreach happens outside of the typical places like churches or even youth groups. It can be as simple as helping someone through a difficulty in their life or spending time with the people whom you care about. There are an infinite number of ways to be kind, and as Christians (and as people) that is what we are most called to do.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post; please leave any questions or comments below!

Nina Palattella,

“God’s Kids” – An Example of ‘One Church’ in Action

11231020_865488753529781_5278205703980367648_nJesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” (Matthew 19:14) In that spirit, many churches in Fairview are joining together to bring the children of Fairview Elementary to Jesus. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Fairview Presbyterian Church, Fairview Methodist Church and St. James Lutheran Church have partnered to start a God’s Club.  They will take turns meeting with first and second graders after school once a week starting in October. The group is excited for this opportunity to do God’s work in the school. The idea originated with Julia Pelligrino, the principal’s secretary. Dr. Ben Horn, the principal, supports the idea completely.

The selected curriculum is “Duck Kingdom” from Children’s Ministry Deals. The goal is to teach children how to love others. Each week has a special duck theme that will help children learn a new Bible lesson about loving others. Each lesson includes a parent sheet, memory verse, skit, object lesson or children’s sermon, small group discussion, and a large group game. Each week will start with a snack and singing. The club will be called “God’s Kids”.

The first session will start in early October and run for 9 weeks. The second session will start in the new year. There are plans to expand to include third and fourth graders. The team is excited to be bringing the children to know and understand Jesus.

M.J. Radock, member St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Fairview, PA

What it Feels Like to be a Christian in High School

Welcome to a new series where we will hear from Nina Palattella about her experience as a Christian in her senior year of High School.  Nina will write a blog post about once a month over the course of the school year.

Nina reading during a service at summer camp this year.

Nina reading during a service at summer camp this year.

Hello there, and welcome to my first blog post! My name is Nina, and I am a freshly minted senior at Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy in Erie. I have an older brother, two dogs, and my hobbies include writing fiction; singing, both in a vocal jazz ensemble at my school and solo, and playing the electric guitar. In addition, I am a Christian; my family and I have belonged to the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul, also in Erie, since I was about four years old. I cannot vouch for this personally because I was so young, my parents have said that everyone in the congregation was so welcoming and pleased that they were there, and that made a lasting impression on them and influenced their decision to begin regularly attending the church.

Since the beginning, there have been so many ways to get involved within the church and the Episcopal community at large, and I have been fortunate enough to participate in a few of them. I was formally involved in the Cathedral of St. Paul’s Children’s Choir for more than a decade, and I still sing with the regular choir occasionally on Sunday mornings. I participate in services as an usher, reader, and I am a licensed Eucharistic minister; my father has served on the church’s board, both as senior and junior warden, for many years, and there have been many Sundays where I spent the entire morning and even some of the afternoon hanging out at church. I have volunteered at community dinners, helped the dedicated food pantry pack bags for people in need in our community, and decorated lamb cakes for the Easter Vigil service. I’ve gone to summer camps, taken part in mission trips to assist other congregations and shared side-splitting moments of hilarity and fellowship with other Christian kids and adult volunteers as part of the Episcopal community for youth known as The Vine. This past January, my mother, father, brother and I, along with eight other members of our congregation, took a trip to India to visit a church that we had helped build, which was a life-changing experience that I hope to discuss in future blog posts.

When I was originally approached with the idea of writing this blog, the proposed topic was what it feels like to be a Christian in high school. As I’m sure you’ve gathered thus far, being part of the Episcopal Church has had a *huge* impact on my life, and I think I can say that with comfortably little exaggeration. As I’ve gotten older, it hasn’t always been easy to stay involved in the church, particularly because of my school, which is well known for its demanding and challenging curriculum. There are Sundays when I skip going to church because I have too much homework, or because I’m too tired from everything that I’ve had to do that week; when I do want to or have to go to church, I often have to plan my day around how I’m going to make up for those lost hours of work later in the day. I know many people, including some of my friends, who are skeptical of the faith they once had, some who seem to think that they currently don’t have the time to fit it into their lives, and some who have abandoned it altogether. Because I attend a public high school, religion isn’t a part of the daily lessons, and more often than not I can easily go days without hearing religion mentioned or talking about it in a meaningful context. I don’t hide my faith; I wear a cross necklace that was given to me by my parents the night of my confirmation a few years ago, and if anyone were to ask me about religion I would have no problem telling them that I am a Christian, and I like to think that I would make the other person feel secure in their own beliefs (or lack thereof) while still letting them know that they would be welcome to visit my church anytime. However, I don’t think I have a knack for promoting it or talking about it with relative strangers unless I am prompted by something else. One of my friends from middle school (who has since moved to a different town in Pennsylvania) possessed that skill, and I would marvel how easily she could make friends with someone and talk to them in a completely natural manner about how influential Christianity is in her life. The best strategy that I’ve been able to come up with so far is to not hide my identity and let the people who are interested know how Christianity has benefitted me if and when the subject comes up.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post, and if you have any questions or comments feel free to post them in the comment section below. Thanks and have a great day!