HOWARD — Like many students, Brooke Huben misses being in the classroom and seeing friends in person. But the hardest part of the “safer-at-home” order for Huben, a junior at Bay Port High School, is being away from St. John the Baptist Church.
“My life revolves completely around everything I do at St. John’s,” she said. “Before this all started happening, I was at our parish five or six days of the week for events, and I loved it. I really miss being there, and I can’t wait to come back soon, hopefully.”
Huben, who teaches third and fourth grade religious education classes, is a member of the youth board and sings at Masses, found inspiration in Scripture and prayer to implement an outreach project to serve people in need from the parish.
“My sister (Savannah) and I were feeling really down one night while we were stuck at home, quarantined because of our past travel, and we looked to Scripture for comfort,” she said. “We wrote down all of our favorite Bible verses about trusting in God. We decided to get creative and made small posters decorated with the verses. We stuck them to our kitchen cabinets so that no matter what, we would see them every day and be reminded (that) this is God’s plan.”
During a run, Huben, who competes in cross country at Bay Port, prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
“When I was praying I just felt like God was telling me that I needed to start thinking more about others who are in tougher situations right now and the idea immediately popped in my head,” she explained.
Huben contacted Lisa Christiansen, St. John the Baptist coordinator of faith formation for grades 6-12 and confirmation, and Rob Sobieck, youth evangelization coordinator, about forming a “community card campaign” for elderly and homebound parishioners.
Christiansen, Sobieck and Susan Casleton, faith formation coordinator for grades 1-5, sent a letter via email to invite faith formation students to contribute to the project. Teachers at St. John the Baptist School were also contacted to invite their students. Directions were included about how to make a homemade card from an 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheet of paper. Participants were instructed to drop off cards in a bin located on the parish office screen porch.
“In the cards that I made for the campaign I put some of my favorite Bible verses about trust and strength in the Lord on the front,” explained Huben. “Then on the inside I put a prayer asking for the intercession of Jesus’ divine mercy and encouraging phrases I’ve heard. I also wrote in each card that we were praying for them. Prayer is so important right now and a lot of people don’t have anyone praying for them. So, I wanted to make sure that anyone who received my card knew that they were in my prayers.”
Within the first four days of the campaign 150 cards were donated, said Christiansen.
“The cards will be mailed to nursing homes where we have parishioners residing, but we will include additional cards to be shared with other members of the community that the nursing home feels could use a pick-me-up,” she said. “We are contacting the nursing homes first to ensure these cards can safely be shared with residents without spreading the COVID-19 virus.”
Cards will also be sent to homebound and isolated parishioners. The St. John the Baptist Caring Connection project, led by pastoral minister Ruth Holloway, will help identify the parish members most in need. The project will involve parish committee members making phone calls to all 2,600 parish families to check on the safety of individuals and families.
“My hopes for those who receive the cards are honestly to just give them something to smile about,” said Huben. “We can often be distracted from God and our faith when hard things are going on and I hope the cards they receive not only bring their thoughts back to the Lord but give them the comfort that they are not alone.”
She also hopes those who participate in the campaign benefit spiritually.
“I hope that … the card creators are reminded (that) just because faith formation classes are on hold and (Mass) is being livestreamed, it doesn’t mean that this is a time to stray from your faith,” said Huben. “Our faith and relationship with God is the most important thing in our life, and it is in times like this that we are presented with the opportunity to grow that relationship.