Mary Catherine Bishop, Pastoral Minister, shares her experience of the Christmas spirit
here at St. George Parish.
The Christmas spirit of giving has certainly been alive in our parish family with our Christmas Outreach Programs. Each year we provide opportunities for giving to others who need a helping hand during the Christmas Season. We begin by reaching out to the Catholic Schools in our city, asking for names of families who could use some help. Volunteers then call each family and ask for a wish-list for their children. During these calls, our volunteers offer a listening ear to their stories of struggle, and are touched by the thankfulness of the recipients. One of our volunteers shared that after she offered help of food and toys for the children, the mother thanked her and asked her “and what can I do for you?” This is truly an example of getting more than you give when you offer your time to help others. After we compile all our wish-lists, we invite the sponsorship to begin. Some take on a whole family, providing them with both food and gifts, others take tags from the Giving Trees and bring in a gift for a child, some bring in non perishable food that is used to make up hampers and still others are very generous with financial contributions that allow us to purchase gift cards and other items needed. We want to make sure that all parishioners can participate in the giving. We were so blessed again this year with the generous amount of donations that we received. We were able to provide for over 200 families across the city.
A special thank you to the staff and students at St. George, St Nicholas and St Theresa Catholic Schools who collected heaps of toys and food. With those extra donations we were able to send food to other Catholic churches to assist with their hamper programs; donate 8 bags of toys to the Children’s Hospital; Anova Woman’s Shelter and Life Spin, an organization dedicated to providing support to individuals surviving on low incomes, and many other organizations that were in need. Thank you to all the volunteers who offered their time to plan, organize, call, buy, wrap, sort, clean up, and finally deliver all the hampers and in record time. This program could not run without all of you.
In addition to our hamper program, the Knights of Columbus provided brand new winter coats for over 60 children who were so happy to receive them that they danced around the schoolyard. The St Vincent de Paul collected coats, boots, hats gloves, socks and blankets to share with those in need in our core downtown area through their Cover Me With Love Program, and with the financial help of the Catholic Women’s League, they were able to also give out 100 blessing bags which contained basic items like, socks, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, gloves etc, things I know I take for granted. The smallest of actions truly make the biggest impact in offering dignity to those who feel anything but joy at this time of the year. We are truly a vibrant faith community living out the Gospel and caring for all, and I am so proud to be a member of your leadership team. Peace, Joy & Love to you and your families this Christmas Season.
ST. JOHN XIII CHRISTMAS PRAYER
O sweet Child of Bethlehem, grant that we may share with all our hearts in this profound mystery of Christmas. Put into the hearts of men and women this peace for which they sometimes seek so desperately and which you alone can give to them. Help them to know one another better, and to live as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father. Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity. Awaken in their hearts love and gratitude for your infinite goodness. Join them all together in your love. And give us your heavenly peace. Amen.