Adopt-a-Mission program builds friendships
Parishioners Paul and Beth Mattingly wanted to help St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Cincinnati become a more missionary parish. They looked around the world, almost starting an adoptive relationship with a church in Honduras. When that didn't work out, Paul remembered something he’d known all along — there are missions in need of help right here in the U.S.
Paul grew up in Aurora, Ind., nearby Glenmary’s novitiate house, which was located there from 1956-65. Glenmarians often served at his church and he got to know them well. Paul even became college roommates with now-Brother Virgil Siefker. Beth learned of Glenmary through Brother Virgil, and the two were moved by Glenmary’s mission.
The couple moved to Cincinnati and for the last 25 years have loved their parish, St. Bernard. Like all churches, Paul noted, St. Bernard had to meet the challenge of having an outward focus beyond the normal nuturing of its community. Paul and Beth wanted to help St. Bernard go out to the margins.
“We saw something in Glenmary Challenge magazine about Glenmary having an adopt-a-parish program,” Paul said. “We went to our pastor, Father Don Siciliano, and said, ‘We ought to do this,’ and he said, ‘Go for it.’”
Since October of 2016, thanks largely to Paul and Beth, St. Bernard has adopted Glenmary’s Holy Family Catholic Mission in Lafayette, Tenn. The covenant between the two communities calls for mutual prayer, exchange of information and visiting each other. Additionally, St. Bernard provides a monthly donation to Glenmary to support Holy Family.
St. Bernard is one of 15 organizations around the country that has adopted a Glenmary mission or missioner. The relationships allows Glenmary greater exposure in the more established parishes, and provide a steady source of income for Glenmary’s ministries.
The relationship between St. Bernard and Holy Family has been a hit from the start. When parishioners from Holy Family visited Cincinnati to sign their copy of the covenant in October of 2016, St. Bernard was busy with a canned goods drive for Thanksgiving. Without being asked, parishioners from Holy Family jumped in to help organize the cans.
With the covenant established, the St. Bernard group asked Holy Family pastor Father Vic Subb how they could help. At the time, Father Vic needed about 30 baby blankets. St. Bernard parishioners delivered 130 blankets!
“That told us that people were really interested in doing this,” Paul said.
The people of St. Bernard have embraced their adopted parish. In the first year they provided $5,000 towards Holy Family’s efforts to construct a new church, sent school supplies to local children in Macon County, Tenn., delivered shoes and clothing to the needy at Holy Family, and provided personal care items for the migrant tobacco workers the mission serves.
The relationship isn’t a one-way street. Parishioners from Holy Family hosted a group from Cincinnati for a Seder meal during Holy Week. Further, a group from the Tenn. mission drove up to St. Bernard to volunteer at their annual summer festival. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, summer festivals are major fundraisers, but finding volunteers to help operate them is a real challenge, making Holy Family’s efforts very appreciated.
The Holy Family volunteers worked long hours in the hot Cincinnati summer, but came away with ideas on fundraisers for their own church.
“It gave them the idea of how they could start something they could use,” Beth said. “It could be a money maker for their parish.”
“We wanted this to be more than just sending a check,” Paul said. “Officially, you send the money and there’s prayer and that’s all great, but we wanted people-to-people contact. We’ve really struck up some friendships.”
To learn more about adopting a mission or a missioner, click HERE.
This story first appeared in the May 2018 Boost-a-Month Club newsletter.