By Vince LaBarbera
FORT WAYNE — The Social Action Committee at St. Jude Church, Fort Wayne, planned a series of activities during the six weeks of Lent to raise awareness of as well as implement the corporal works of mercy.
“This represents the culmination of our attempt over the past several years to highlight a corporal work per year,” said Sheila McGarry, president of the committee for more than 20 years. “We have successfully highlighted all of them,” she added.
This year a different opportunity for service in the community with other parishioners is being offered every week during Lent, McGarry continued. The first event or “Station of Service” was held Feb. 20-21 and satisfied the first two corporal works of mercy: Feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty.
With a small percentage of money from the parish tithe fund, the project participants purchased food and supplies needed to make 900 sack lunches that were prepared in the church basement the evening of Feb. 20 for The Franciscan Center. They were delivered on Feb. 21. Volunteers could sign up after all Masses the previous weekend.
“We stopped counting at 70 as parishioners were still coming in to help,” said Julie Renninger, a committee member for the past 14 years. In addition to McGarry and Renninger, other members include Sue Harrington, Pat Tighe, Liz Sanders, Joan White and Ann Helmke.
“We truly hear Pope Francis calling all of us to take care of the poor,” said Renninger. “Our committee allocates money to individuals and organizations locally, nationally and globally.” She added they are hopeful news of what their committee is doing this Lent may help other parishes, if not already doing so, to undertake the corporal works of mercy.
In the back of church by the statue of St. Jude, Stations of Service cards are available that outline various ways parishioners can carry out each of the works of mercy during Lent, McGarry related, whether it be by participating in a scheduled group service opportunity or by choosing another option. A blank line in each category is like a write-in ballot for something a person does that fits the work but is not listed as an option.
“Families can complete a family card or proceed individually,” she explained. Junior high students also can ring-up hours of service. The goal is to practice all the works of mercy at least once during the six weeks of Lent. If a volunteer wants his or her card officially validated as each work is completed, a member of the Social Action Committee can do that after any Mass on any weekend. Or, parishioners can proceed on the honor system and self-validate, McGarry indicated.
“Information is provided in the bulletin each week on the scheduled service for the upcoming week with the opportunity for sign-up,” said McGarry. “And we have spoken of having a celebration of completion after Lent for those who reach the goal and to which we would invite all the community partners. This Lent we’re encouraging parishioners to help others carry their crosses in a very real way by participating in the Stations of Service Lenten project,” McGarry concluded.
The past and remaining scheduled opportunities for service include:
• Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty
Monthly food collection during March, transportation of food to Beacon Heights, Fishes and Loaves Lenten Collection, Associated Churches Warehouse Lenten Collection “Sort and Shelf” on Saturday, April 4, from 10-11:30 a.m. at 602. E. Wayne St.; Easter food packing and Easter food delivery.
• Clothe the naked
Contribution to “Clothe Naked with Warmth” collection, donation of used clothes to a clothing bank, donation of used school uniform items to St. Jude School.
• Shelter the homeless
Youth Ministry Homeless Outreach contribution or distribution, care for a foster child or an adopted child, contribution to St. Vincent de Paul Society toward rent and utilities for parishioners, participation in RCIA, helping candidate find a home in the Church; service as greeter/usher, making people feel at home in church.
• Ransom the captive
Literacy Alliance “Reading Opens Doors” Lesson and Recognition Lunch on Wednesday, March 25, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 709 Clay St. No. 100, helping provide an educational activity for students, serving lunch and presenting achievement awards for reaching reading goals; SCAN 30th Annual Brown Bag Lunch March 17-18, helping on event day with packing or delivery of Casa meal; Blue Jacket Shopping Trip on Thursday, April 2, from 12-2 p.m. at 2826 S. Calhoun St., helping clients shop for clothes to wear on job interviews; transportation to church, chapel, grocery, etc. for someone unable to travel independently; donation of used glasses to New Eyes for Needy, Lions Club, etc.; contact a deployed member of the military by call, package, etc.
• Visit the sick
Matthew 25 Health and Dental Clinic “Clean-Paint-Plant-a-thon” on Thursday, March 19, from 1-3:30 and/or 3:30-6 p.m. at 413 E. Jefferson Blvd., replacing plastic plants with live plants, washing walls and painting in main waiting room; Project Linus “No Sew Blanket Making” on Saturday, March 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and/or 1-3 p.m. at Salem Church United Church of Christ 2401 Lake Ave.; hospital visit; sending a get well card, flowers or balloons; nursing home visit; distribution of Eucharist to hospital/homebound/nursing home; care for sick family member or friend; participation in St. Jude Prayer Shawl Ministry.
• Bury the dead
Contribution of funeral dish to a funeral dinner, serving at a funeral dinner, participation in funeral ministries (choir, servers, etc.); attendance at a funeral, calling or memorial service; cemetery visit; attendance at Mass said in memory of a family member or friend; prayer for victim at site of homicide.
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