St. Agnes celebrates Maple Weekend

LAKE PLACID – Sunday morning following Mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church, members of the parish and community ate a pancake breakfast and then tapped trees to make syrup in celebration of New?York’s Maple Weekend.

The pancake breakfast was run by the Catholic Daughters, who were busy from 10 a.m. to noon serving pancakes with healthy doses of real maple syrup.

“Everything we make today goes back to charity,” said Terry Bertrand, a member of the Catholic Daughters. “This is our fifth breakfast. It’s the second year we’ve celebrated maple weekend.”

Jack Knox from Elizabethtown attended Mass and the pancake breafast.

“The gospel today was about awareness,” Knox said. “Seeing things and treating each other with kindness and respect. St. Paul spoke about bringing darkness into the light.”

Congressman Bill Owens had planned to attend the breakfast, but due to road conditions from a snowstorm he did not attend.

“I am disappointed to have missed today’s event due to the weather,” Owens wrote by email. “I remain very supportive of events like this one that showcase maple production in the North Country. Celebrating local maple producers helps to promote this growing industry, and I look forward to attending more events like this in the future.”

The maple syrup for the breakfast was donated by the Cornell Maple Research and Extension Program in Lake Placid.

Mike Farrell, a Catholic and director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest, led the tree tapping for the church at 11:30 a.m., following the breakfast. The group went across the street from St. Agnes, in a lot owned by a member of the church.

“These are maple trees from about 100 years ago,” Farrell said, speaking to a group of children and parents. “They haven’t been tapped in a long time.”

Farrell began walking the children through the process on the first tree, drilling a hole, hammering the spile into place and setting the bucket below it.

“It’s coming out,” he said, after tapping the first tree. “There it goes, our first drop of sap. It’s good sap.”

Farrell explained to the children that when it gets warmer, the sap will start to flow from the tree and fill the bucket. Then the group tapped around five trees, with the children lending a hand.

The Rev. John Yonkovig said nature teaches Catholics about Lent, when they give up something of importance in their lives over a 40-day period to prepare for Easter Sunday.

“What we’ve talked about is how Mother Nature teaches us about or own lives,” Yonkovig said. “The maple tree gives up its sap to bring sweetness into our lives.”