Saint Agnes Parish Help: What to Expect
This week's "Pastor's Column" is guest-written by Mr. Paul Chaloux:
Parish Help. For the last two weeks, it’s been the focal point of parish communications: pamphlets, yard signs, sermons, bulletin fliers, social media, home mailings…You may be wondering how this came about and why we are expending all this effort. Most of all, you are probably wondering what to expect if you come and whether it’s worth the time and effort. I’ve been asked to address these questions.
The idea for the project really originated with a simple observation: Our confirmation students were having difficulty meeting their service hour requirements while at the same time, many of our service ministries needed help. It was rather obvious that if we could bring the two groups together, we could solve both problems. On January 8, 2017 we held the inaugural PROJECT HELP assembly for our school and CCD 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Representatives from thirteen parish ministries gave a short presentation about who they are, what they do, and what the students could do to help. After the presentations, students were given the opportunity to sign up for whatever interested them- in total, they signed up for 900 hours of service. In addition, 70% of their parents signed up to participate with them and 73 students registered to be on call in case their skills were needed later. It was a classic win-win scenario: the parents were happy, the students were happy and the ministries were happy. Buoyed by the success, we decided to extend the concept to the parish as a whole; hence, PARISH HELP was born.
The general concept of Parish Help is similar to Project Help: to help people find those ministries and activities in the parish that meet their needs and interests. As Father Edlefsen said last week, this is good for the person, good for the ministries, good for the parish and good for the whole community because it builds up the Body of Christ. There is a stunning array of activity at Saint Agnes: 64 ministries covering every age group from cradle to grave. We have social groups, youth groups, faith formation groups, prayer groups, liturgical groups and a multitude of service groups. Furthermore, if you see a need that we aren’t currently addressing, there will be an opportunity to propose new groups. The beauty of Parish Help, and why we’ve invested so much in it, is that it allows people an unprecedented opportunity to investigate our offerings, find their niche, and sign up for what interests them. Recognizing that people may want to contribute in different ways, we are offering four distinct ways to engage: join a group, join a one-time project, register an on-call skill (baking, computer work, manual labor, etc), or provide your ideas for new ministries. To make it as convenient as possible, the event will run from 4-7PM on Saturday May 6th and from 8AM- 2 PM on Sunday May 7th.
So here’s what to expect: You will be greeted at the door of the Saint Agnes school gym by one of our Project Help confirmation volunteers, who will provide you with a map of the event and a directory of all parish ministries. This directory is a take home resource which lists each ministry, what they do, when they do it and who to contact if interested.
Upon entering the gym, you will find tables for three of our most venerable service organizations: the Knights of Columbus, the Hibernians, and the Legions of Mary.
Turning to your left, you will encounter the 4 groups responsible for social activities in the parish: the Welcome group, Donut Sundays, the Sodality of Celebrations, and the Parish Picnic. Stop in and check out their schedule of events and if you like planning and hosting parties, offer to help at one of them.
If you are athletically inclined, we have the free faith and fitness exercise group twice a week, the annual golf open and CYO basketball, track, and tennis for our youth.
Next is our faith formation groups for 8th graders (Ignite), High schoolers (Sunday Night Live) and the Young Adult group. We also have Conquest for 5-8th grade boys and Challenge for 2-8th grade girls. All of these feature fun activities in a faith-filled environment with the Challenge/Conquest programs offering high school students an opportunity to mentor the younger students.
You now reach one of three food stations, spaced strategically around the gym. On Saturday evening, we’ll serve cookies baked by confirmation volunteers. On Sunday morning, we’ll have donuts.
Next, we address the needs of young children and their parents with the Sunday morning nursery and the Lions and Lambs playgroup. They are followed by both the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts
Against the back stage, we situated our spiritually focused groups: the music ministry, the men’s group (TMIY), the women’s bible study group (WWP), the Council of Catholic Women, Adoration, Ushers & collection counters, and the Spanish Apostolate. In the middle of this group is the second food station and across from them is a booth by Joyful Spirit Catholic store, sellers of all things Catholic.
On the right side of the gym, we have our service groups: the Ecumenical Council, the Amore group, Catholic Charities, Cherrydale Prayer group, Wells of Love, Pro-life, Migrant and Refugee Services. For those that have a passion for making a difference, these groups offer opportunities with varying levels of commitments. The third food station is among this group.
The final section is for the artistically inclined: The Arts & Crafts group, the Flower committee and the Landscaping Committee. Take a section of the grounds and make it beautiful.
Just before you exit the gym, there will be two final tables: one for ideas to cover what we are missing, your chance to propose a ministry, and one to put your name on a skills list to be called if the parish has a need (note this is not a hard commitment). I will be staffing these tables so I hope to see you there. God bless, Paul