At the close of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis suggested that the Church set aside one day each year for communities to “reflect on how poverty is at the very heart of the Gospel .” He designated this day as the World Day of the Poor, to be celebrated each year on the 33rdSunday in Ordinary Time.
It is right that during our Season of Stewardship and during the season of Thanksgiving that we take some time to reflect on how the Gospel is calling us as individuals and as a parish family to serve the poor. The widow who fed Elijah with the last of her flour and the widow in the Gospel of Mark help us understand that God is calling us to extravagant generosity. We are called to give all. Really, it’s ridiculous! And impossible. Except for those of us in whom Christ lives. And so it is not impossible. St. Teresa of Calcutta said that The Holy Hour before the Eucharist should lead us to a “holy hour” with the poor. Our Eucharist is incomplete if it does not make us love and serve the poor.”
The Cathedral parish, and its members, are active in a wide variety of service activities, and welcome the opportunity to serve people in need in our parish and beyond. There have been many opportunities over the years for parishioners to support the local community. Here is what we have been doing lately:
Catholic Charities Holy Family Food Pantry
A collection bin is in the Atrium for an ongoing food collection for the Holy Family Food Pantry. In the past, the CCCW members collected non-perishable food at their fall meetings to fill the Holy Family Food Pantry Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets. Beginning this year, all parishioners are invited to participate in this giving opportunity. A list of suggested food items has appeared in the bulletin and cash donations are also accepted. Place a check or cash in an envelope marked “Food Pantry” and drop it in the collection basket.
Helping Hands Food Ministry
We are completing our 13th year of providing a home-cooked meal for the 50 men who seek shelter at Helping Hands. Teams provide a meal on the 4th Saturday of each month. Each January an organizational meeting is held to form teams and plan meals for the year. Volunteers prepare the food, purchase drinks and disposable dinnerware, deliver and serve the meal.
Christ Child Shower
The CCCW has coordinated the Christ Child Shower for many years. Generous contributions of items for babies, preschool children and pregnant/new mothers are accepted and divided between the Pregnancy Care Center and Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery for distribution to their client families.
Parishioners donate toiletries, personal care items, socks, etc. to make Blessing Bags for individuals who are homebound or who cannot afford them. In 2018, a group of CCCW ladies and their families prepared packages for 65 residents of a local nursing home as well as 18 home bound Cathedral parishioners in Sister Francella’s ministry. In past years, these bags were also provided to Helping Hands to provide needed items to homeless individuals.
Borrowing this idea from other parishes, Cathedral parishioners donated almost 500 pairs of socks, hats and gloves for area shelters! We will make this much needed service an annual giving opportunity.
Held annually on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Breadline Sunday is an easy way to donate to St. John’s Breadline and get the bread for your Thanksgiving stuffing.
All these ways of helping are essential for vulnerable members of our community and the agencies who assist them. But there may be ways we can do more to address the root causes of homelessness or perhaps join with the Heartland Continuum to seek long-term solutions.
The Heartland Continuum is an organization of all agencies and individuals who serve the homeless population or are interested in helping. These agencies include shelters, soup kitchens, resource areas, and day services. To learn more about the Heartland Continuum and what is going on in Springfield to help people experiencing homelessness, visit heartlandcontinuum.com
If you are interested in helping our parish discern how to better care for those in need, please come on Monday, December 10, at 6 p.m. to the Atrium for a 45-minute presentation called “Healthy Spaces for Helping.” This is a session about the effects of trauma (abuse, neglect, living in poverty) on children and adults. We’ll learn about why being trauma-aware is essential to responding to the needs of our community, particularly people and populations who are homeless or who live in poverty. If you are interested, please contact Vicki Compton at [email protected] or by calling 522-3342. All parishioners and friends of the Cathedral are welcome!
Vicki Compton is the Coordinator of Faith Formation and Mission at the Cathedral. She can be contacted by calling the Parish Offices or emailing her directly at [email protected].