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St. Stephen Church Reaches Out to Grieving Students

The church's youth center in Valrico will open its doors tonight to anyone student who wants to mourn or simply talk about the death of Bloomingdale High School student Zachary McCarthy.

Teens wishing to mourn, pray or simply talk about their feelings regarding the sudden death of Bloomingdale High School student Zachary McCarthy are welcome to visit the ROC Center at St. Stephen Catholic Church today from 5 to 9 p.m.

The ROC, a youth center, is located on the church grounds at 5049 Bell Shoals Rd., Valrico.

McCarthy was killed Jan. 2 following a crash on Natures Way and Golf Meadow Boulevard in Bloomingdale East.

"Teens have been gathering throughout the day at different places in the community. We are simply opening our spiritual home to give them a safe place to talk and mourn," said the Rev. Bill Swengros, pastor at St. Stephen Catholic Church.

Swengros said there will be a grief counselor and pyschologist on hand to speak with any teens wanting support.

"It's not a memorial or prayer service, although teens are certainly welcome to pray together," said Swengros. "It's a chance for teens to make sense of what they're feeling. There have just been too many senseless deaths of young people recently, and there's a lot of sadness."

Bloomingdale students also are planning a candlelight vigil at 9:30 p.m. at the crash site.

In addition, McCarthy's church, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 12404 Boyette Rd., Riverview, will host a prayer service at 7 p.m.

See related content:

Candlelight Vigil Set to Remember Bloomingdale High Student

Bloomingdale High Student Killed in Crash

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