Fox Valley parish ministers to needy

By | February 18, 2009

One example of the program’s impact is Meals on Wheels.

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Margie Douglas, coordinator of St. Paul Parish’s Care Ministry Program in Combined Locks, visits with Teresa Van Berkel. Photo by Josh Diedrich

In 2006, Douglas contacted Outagamie County’s Meals on Wheels program to provide assistance for an ailing parishioner. She learned that there were no local routes for the service. So Douglas and her group, in partnership with neighboring Christ the King Lutheran Church, developed a route to serve the Darboy/Combined Locks communities. Now drivers deliver meals to seven local residents every Monday through Friday.

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Parishioners who volunteer with the Paul Cares program put stewardship into action by reaching out to others in their time of need. They visit parishioners in hospitals, nursing homes, or homebound, and at Christmas organize a holiday gift visit. Others provide bereavement care to those who are coping with the loss of a loved one. Still others help those experiencing challenges in their marriage through the Retrouvaille program.

Because people deal with loss differently, the bereavement care program within the Paul Care Ministry offers several ways to help others through their grief. Volunteers offer phone calls and visits to survivors, along with Care Notes pamphlets, which focus on specific situations related to loss of a loved one.

Each year, a special remembrance service is held at St. Paul to honor those who have died. Family members light candles in memory of their loved ones. They are also invited to share favorite pictures which, along with an original music arrangement created by local college students, are used to create a video collage played during the ceremony.0906bishopappeal-web

One piece of the Paul Cares Ministry is especially meaningful for Douglas, because the idea came to her when she was coping with the loss of her husband, Tom.

The Memory Ministry relies on the time and talents of parish sewers and crafters to fashion deceased loved ones’ favorite articles of clothing into teddy bears, pillows, or tote bags. One parishioner who received a teddy bear made out of her husband’s flannel shirt noted “it comforts me to hold and see it. I’m very thankful … and feel they help a lot of people cope with their loss.”

The Ministry also seeks to provide a positive image of the Catholic faith in the surrounding community. On one occasion, volunteers visited a local nursing home, dressed in makeshift tablecloth habits and performing songs from the movie “Sister Act.” A daughter of one resident noted later that though her mother rarely spoke, she talked for days about the singing nuns that came to visit.

The hard work pays off for Douglas when she hears such stories. “That’s what we do this for,” she smiled, “so that people feel connected.” The Paul Cares Ministry ensures that no one is forgotten in his or her time of need.

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