Before All Saints "Dive for the Cross" event began, Kenya Raichart, aquatic director for the Galowich YMCA, reviewed safety rules around a pool and then gave the kids a safety test to assess their swimming abilities. Non-swimmers could still participate, Raichart assured them, but from the shallow end.
Patty Hall, executive director for the Galowich YMCA explained why the Y allowed All Saints use their space for its "Dive for the Cross."
"It sounded like a unique event and I was super excited to give them space." Hall said. "There's limited places to have it."
Nick Macris of Joliet, a member of All Saints Greek Orthodox Church and the Galowich YMCA board, agreed. He said was "on board" the minute his pastor Rev. Stephen Bithos suggested the event especially since, to his knowledge, no church has hosted one in Joliet.
"I love the idea," Macris said. "It gives these young people a chance to experience a tradition of the faith associated with Epiphany instead of just seeing pictures on YouTube."
Before the diving, Bithos held a short prayer service by the pool. A pizza party followed the event. He himself participated in a similar event when he was 16 or 17.
"They used to dive on Sept. 14 [feast of the 'Exultation of the Cross'] near the old McCormick Place, before the fire closed it," Bithos said. "They had an outdoor blessing of waters and then they threw the cross in the lake and everyone dove. I dove with 50 other people. The person who retrieved it was from my church. But they don't do it anymore."
Winners were Scarlett Hunt, 3, of Mokena; Jacob VonHolten, 9, of Channahon; and Sammy VonHolten, 11, of Channahon.