Holy models help ‘reclaim’ Halloween

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Sts. Denis, Dunstan and Joan of Arc walk into a corn maze.

If you thought that this was going to be the beginning of a joke, you'd be wrong.

Twenty-six teens, many of them dressed as a saint or saint-to-be, gathered at the Cows-N-Corn dairy farm in Midland Oct. 30 for the third Saint Maze Fire Night, a Halloween-inspired event organized by the high school youth ministry of Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville.

Accompanied by Tim Judge, parish coordinator of youth ministry as well as adult volunteers Keith and Lauren Puzder, the teens participated in the farm's "Hot Dog and Hayride" event, which included a nighttime tour of the farm and its operations via hayride, a trek through an approximately 8-acre corn maze and hotdogs roasted by a bonfire.

"The idea of it for me came from trying to shift teens' ideas of Halloween to thinking of saints," Judge said, explaining the inspiration behind the event.

The route for this year's maze - the farm's 15th - included a milk carton and glass, a block of cheese and a cow, and the website address dairygood.org, which provides resources to educate consumers about dairy products and the people who help produce them like the Leonard family, who run the Cows-N-Corn farm.

At the end of the night, the adults awarded those dressed in the most scary, creative and beautiful saints' costumes with restaurant gift cards.

Alex McDonald, a ninth-grade homeschool student, won the award for scariest costume. Dressed in a white sheet with the back splattered with red and his right hand cupped under his chin, McDonald evoked the image of St. Denis, who legends say carried around his own head for a time after being beheaded.

McDonald said the corn maze was better than others he's traversed in the past.

"The corn maze was really good," McDonald said. "The last corn maze I went to was just a spiral - no dead ends."

Many participants, such as homeschooled 10th-grader Gabriella Knowles, who wore red, white and blue and put foam fire flames in her shoes as St. Joan of Arc, said they attended to spend time with friends. Knowles is a parishioner of St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal.

"It was nice to enjoy the company of people and get to know them better," said Patrick Hall, a senior at Seton School in Manassas.

Hall came to the event carrying a mallet and wearing a belted-brown robe over his black T-shirt and jeans to represent St. Dunstan, the patron saint of metalworking and Hall's hobby.

Judge said the event was to encourage teens to turn their minds and hearts to God amid a secular culture that often makes it difficult to do so.

"It's really important for us to reclaim, as Catholics, the different holy days that we have," Judge said.

Marsala is a freelance writer from Haymarket.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015