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Eagle Scout builds liturgical chest for youth ministry

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Brad Bursa (left) and Matt Reinkemeyer investigate the contents of the Mass chest made by Paul Rahner for his Eagle Scout project. (CT photo/Gail Finke)

By Gail Finke

After amassing everything needed for Mass or Eucharistic adoration but an altar, the archdiocese’s Office of Youth Evangelization staff members needed a place to put it all.

Plastic tubs and bins just didn’t seem right for the chalices and bowls, thurible (incense holder), candelabras, monstrance, and other fine liturgical items. This summer, the office got a container worthy of its contents.

Immaculate Heart of Mary parishioner Paul Rahner built the team a massive, but portable, wooden chest to store the items between youth events, and to transport them anywhere they needed to go. Built as his Eagle Scout project (troop 694), the chest is made of walnut and contains specially made boxes for many of the items.

“Deacon Russ Feldcamp came to me with the idea to build a liturgical chest, because the Via ministries came in possession of a whole set of liturgical items and needed something to store and transport them in,” he said. “I had almost no experience working with wood, but under the guidance of Ren Beltramo in his workshop stocked with tools and machinery, my team and I learned several woodworking skills ranging from planing the boards to biscuit cutting.”

Beltramo and another donor, Joe Keeler, provided the wood for the chest, and the IHM Knights of Columbus contributed funds for hardware and other supplies. Rahher and his father, Dave, worked with Beltramo and a team of three other Scouts, Everett Olenick, and Grant and Ryan Foreman. “Because the workshop only had so much space, and this project was more focused and detailed rather than large-scale, the size of the team was perfect,” he said.

The recent Covington Latin High School graduate said the project taught him a lot about leadership by requiring him to coordinate the work of the volunteers, manage the details of the project, and learn new skills. “One particular thing that stuck with me is, ‘a carpenter can never have too many clamps,’” he sa.d “We probably used 15 different clamps throughout the project.”

While the chest has already made several trips from its home in the main office to youth events throughout the archdiocese, Rahner hasn’t seen it in action: He’s spending the summer in boot camp to prepare for the U.S. Naval Academy, where he will study in the fall.

“I am incredibly happy with the outcome of the project,” he said. “Not only did the chest turn out more beautiful than I had imagined, but I learned an incredible amount from planning and executing the project. I never knew so many details and logistics could go into a project “so small.”

“I’d like to thank Ren Beltramo for his extremely generous help,” Rahner said. “Not only did he donate wood for the project, but more than this, he donated his time, talent, and workshop so the chest could be built. I’m also very happy that the chest will be put to good use in the VIA ministries of the archdiocese, as I have loved my experience at the past two VIA Abide retreats.”

For information about Via Catholic youth events, visit Viacatholic.com. For photos from this year’s Abide conference, type “abide” in the search box.

IHM parishioner Paul Rahner made this walnut chest to hold liturgical items for the archdiocese’s youth ministry staff. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
The chest holds candlesticks, candelabra, a thurible, a monstrance, and other items for Mass and Eucharistic adoration, many of them in custom-made boxes. (CT photo/Gail Finke)
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