The new director of religious education at Our Lady of Mercy in Park Ridge wanted to create a new tradition for the children in the parish.
“They’ve never had an Easter egg hunt before. I asked the pastor and he said, ‘Sure.’ I got everything ahead of time and then the coronavirus hit,” said Evelyn Paglieri.
She was left with hundreds of plastic eggs and bags of candy. But, thanks to the power of social media, she found a new home for them—the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.
The weekend before Easter, Paglieri, her husband and her daughter spent more than 10 hours stuffing 875 eggs with candy and bagging them.
“We’d do a few hours and then stop and go back to it. It was a long haul to finish it,” Paglieri explained, but also noted they had the time due to the state’s stay-at-home order. “We didn’t feel it was a hassle. We knew it was the right thing to do.”
Paglieri and her daughter, Jackie, dropped the Easter eggs off to staff members outside the hospital on April 7. They were given to the children and the busy doctors and nurses who may not have had time to stuff eggs for their own children.
“It felt good knowing I was helping kids who are sick, especially now that there is so much going on with COVID-19,” described Jackie.
The donated bags also contained a letter.
“Mostly to let them know that we were thinking of them and praying for them, that we’re there for them even in this small way, to brighten up their Easter a little bit,” Paglieri said.
“We are so grateful for Our Lady of Mercy’s generous donation of over 800 Easter eggs to Hackensack University Medical Center and Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital,” said Helen A. Cunning, north regional president and chief development officer at Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation. “The Easter season is one that is very special, and the distribution of the eggs brought so much joy to our team members and youngest patients.”
The parish’s temporary administrator, Father Patrick Seo, admits being disappointed about having to cancel its very first Easter egg hunt—he was planning to dress up as the Easter bunny. However, he reflected on the symbolism of the eggs being repurposed.
“How fitting that those eggs, the secular sign for Easter, ‘died.’ By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit working through one of the members of His mystical body, those eggs have risen to a ‘new life’ toward a greater good,” Father Seo said. “Instead of filling our own stomachs with unnecessary calories, those eggs are now lifting up the spirits of children sick in a hospital. What a great example and sign pointing to the greater good that comes in participation with that deepest mystery of our faith in the death of Christ to new life in the resurrection.”