March 4, 2015 // Local

St. Joseph Communion Closet offers garments

The Baldus sisters, CeCe, left, and Georgia, prepare for guests at the second annual Communion Closet, held at St. Joseph Parish on March 1. The girls collected new and used Communion garments and accessories to loan to families in need.

By Kay Cozad

FORT WAYNE — As northeast Indiana anticipates spring, preparation for the reception of first Communion is being made in Catholic elementary schools and parishes across the area. The special day not only calls for meaningful instruction on the Eucharist for these excited second graders, but also distinctive attire. Traditionally, white gowns and veils adorn the girls, while the boys dress in neatly starched white shirts and ties or suits. But for some expensive first Communion garb may be out of reach. Enter the Communion Closet.

Last year, two young women began the new clothing ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Fort Wayne. Sisters Georgia and CeCe Baldus, whose family had recently become parishioners of St. Joseph, saw a need and prayerfully addressed it. “We talked to our mom about ideas on how to serve the parish,” said Georgia. “CeCe and I still had our first Communion dresses and asked, ‘Why can’t we give dresses and suits?’”

During their discussion they realized that first Communion clothing is worn for a matter of hours and sometimes at an enormous cost.

“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about if their son or daughter looks perfect on that special day,” said Georgia.

So the sisters began a workable campaign to solicit dresses and suits. “First we went to family and friends,” said Georgia. “Then we got the parish involved.”

The first year, inventory included an assortment of new and used Communion dresses, veils, suits, shirts, pants, ties and shoes — among the garments, two like new dresses lovingly worn in years past by the Baldus sisters. Georgia reported that donations, all of which are stored in the Baldus basement during the year, have been generous and she and her sister are grateful for all assistance including those handmade veils made by a family friend and shoes donated by Shoe Carnival. Monetary donations have gone to the repair and cleaning of the garments.

The Communion Closet was open for the first time on two dates in March of 2014 prior to first Communion Masses at St. Joseph. “We set up the inventory in the basement after 11:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph,” said Georgia, who added that several students took advantage of the closet. “We hope this year it will grow,” said Georgia, adding that she also is hopeful other parishes will adopt this exciting initiative as well.

The clothing and shoes, in a variety of sizes, are displayed in the church gathering room where students can try on any desired item for proper fit. A deposit of $25 is required for use of an item and is refunded when the clothing is returned. This year, Georgia reports the inventory has grown with a donation of 20 new dresses by a parishioner who worked at St. Vincent de Paul as well as several other items that she says have come in throughout the year.

Bulletin announcements have served as advertisement for the closet in the past, but the Baldus sisters would like to spread the word that the Communion Closet is not just for parishioners of St. Joseph Parish. Parishioners of any Catholic church in the area are invited to participate in the Communion Closet.

“I want anyone who’s in need to come. I don’t want them to have to spend so much money where it’s not needed,” said Georgia.

Georgia plans to graduate from Snider High School this May and is grateful that her sister CeCe, a junior, will carry this ministry into the future with the hope that “a new generation” will take it on when she is ready to graduate next year.

This year the Communion Closet was open for shopping in St. Joseph’s Gathering Room after the 12:30 p.m. Spanish Mass on March 1. The Baldus sisters plan to offer another shopping date that has yet to be determined. For more information on the Communion Closet or to donate first Communion clothing or make a monetary gift contact Georgia or CeCe Baldus at
[email protected].

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