A Message From Fr. Pat...
To my dear St. John Neumann Parish family:
Happy Easter! In lieu of my weekly letter, I wanted to share with you an e-mail we received from the Pastoral Coordinator at our mission parish of St. Luke in Cuthbert, GA. I was floored (and moved!) by the tremendous impact your generosity is having on our adopted brothers and sisters. Read on…
Dear Fr. Pat,
First and most of all thank you! Our parish and community appreciate everything St John Parish does for us. The First Baptist pastor and ministerial alliance also thank you.
I'm not sure which events or meetings would be “first encounters” with Catholics since the church has been here over 25 years. However, since the parish was inactive for years, the things we do now are certainly first-time events for the community. Adoption by St. John’s parish has inspired us to work again in the community and revive the ministries to the poor.
The Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry serves 40 families monthly and many families in emergency situations. Most of the recipients are elderly on very limited incomes. When I or other Catholic volunteers deliver the food the people realize that we are here for them.
Many of our Senior Citizens are somewhat neglected and were so thrilled when we took the shoebox gifts this Christmas. There were around 100 gifts distributed. One woman said it was the only gift she had received in years. Another said she never gets gifts. All were very thankful-to the point of tears. The Director of the Senior Center had never worked with Catholics before and welcomes working with me and our volunteers. We will try to do a project with them if a VBS group comes this year.
The community clothes closet is such a wonderful blessing. Many families come to outfit their children for school. The men’s suits and women’s dresses are so appreciated for job interviews and dress up occasions. We had to add days for the closet because of its popularity. The Baptist pastor was especially impressed because he had evidently not worked with Catholics other than myself before your group brought clothing and food.
All during December and the Christmas season people complimented our Nativity display in front of the church. Children came to see Baby Jesus and locals now understand that Catholics are Christian.
The men who came to clear some of our “jungle’ will be pleased to see that we have kept the growth down so we can eventually make a prayer path through the woods. The undergrowth was too thick to get through and the yard is now becoming more park-like. Although we aren't ready for "yard of the month" people do notice the church and grounds.
The women and children of the Millennium Center rehab community had such a great time with your youth who did our VBS and cooking project for the moms that they still talk about it months later. We hope it can become an annual event. If the group comes this year I hope to have them spend an afternoon with the Moms doing cooking or arts.
El Refugio has stopped giving clothing to the deporting men but I am working with Fr. Francois Pellissier, a Glenmary priest who is a prison volunteer, to provide the clothing until we have used up your generous donation. Please see the Spring 2015 issue of Glenmary Challenge for information about Fr. Francois.
Our members had been accustomed to just attending Mass on weekends. With your support of this Glenmary mission they have been inspired to renew their parish. They are very welcoming to our new parishioners—we have four new families! They are thinking of how to work with whatever groups you send so the mission experience will be of value to you and themselves.
I will be sending booklets from Glenmary on Mission and VBS to use how you like. I would like to know what you would like your mission groups to learn or accomplish from their trips to St. Luke. I know that they are blessed in just coming to help. The VBS group was really touched by delivering food to the elderly and I think they learned something about immigrants by visiting El Refugio. I am pleased that the men's group coming in March will be here over the weekend so they can meet more of our parishioners.
We are still feeling our way and would appreciate any ideas or suggestions you might have to make your mission trips valuable experiences for your volunteers and our people.
You and your parish are in our prayers.
Yours in Christ,
St. Luke Church
While longer than my normal weekly letter, I didn’t want to leave anything out! It is all so wonderful! I hope that their gratitude helps to inspire continued generosity in our hearts!
Finally, I need your help. As you can see in the Financial Highlights, we are still well short of our DSA goal. If you have not yet contributed, you should have received a letter in the mail this week from the Bishop requesting your support. Remember that if we do not meet our assessment, the shortfall must be made up from parish funds, but any excess comes back 100% to our parish. So please make your pledge today!!!