Indiana Parish, Georgia Mission 'Join in Ministry'
In the vestibule of St. Cecilia Catholic Church in DeMotte, Ind., a large, colorful banner announces, "St. Cecilia, DeMotte, joins in ministry with St. Christopher, Claxton, Georgia." In opposite corners of the banner, state outlines for Indiana and Georgia contain single stars representing the two towns. And a line runs from each star to a central picture of a church.
Msgr. Robert Sell, pastor of St. Cecilia, says the display is a constant reminder to parishioners of the longstanding relationship they have with the St. Christopher mission through Glenmary Home Missioners' Adopt-a-Mission Program.
This program invites parishes across the United States to aid Glenmary's work by supporting struggling U.S. missions through prayer, financial assistance and encouragement, says Christina Fadden, coordinator of Glenmary's Mission Education and Ministry Office. Christina is the first contact for the adopting parish and helps find the best match.
"Usually the most important consideration," she says, "is to match the parish with the mission that has the greatest need." Then the parish and mission enter into a covenant.
In 1994, St. Cecilia's then-pastor contacted Glenmary to inquire about adopting a Glenmary mission. "We gave them descriptions of a few missions," says Christina, "and they chose St. Christopher." Since then the relationship has been consistently strong: St. Cecilia actually doubled its financial support starting in 2006, after Msgr. Sell arrived.
"Helping a mission like St. Christopher is not just assisting another parish but the whole Body of Christ," says Msgr. Sell. "Our parishioners are blessed enough to be able to help others, and they are ready to share their time, talent and treasure with those in need. When you make a decision in your heart to reach out to others, God blesses you in ways you can't imagine."
In the early days, says St. Cecilia member Nancy Gustafson, "Parishioners periodically drove a truckload of needed items to Claxton." Nancy, a parish leader, nowadays packs and ships about 10 boxes of clothing, shoes and other household goods three times a year for mission members and county residents in need. "We send baby supplies too," she says.
Glenmary Father Bob Poandl, St. Christopher's pastor since 2007, always sends a note to tell Msgr. Sell and the parish how grateful mission members are, what's been happening at the mission, and that they're praying for the St. Cecilia parishioners. "Their support is very important to the mission's survival," says Father Bob. "The funds help us with many expenses such as utilities, insurance, food, gas, religious education materials, and candles, bread and wine for Mass, to name a few.
"Also, that support gives us the sense of being cared for by another part of the Church. And it inspires us to give back to God. That's why we give 5 percent of our monthly collections to other poor people in our area."
Msgr. Sell says he prints Father Bob's messages in the parish bulletin, "and we ask parish members to continue to give and pray for our brothers and sisters in Georgia." As Father Bob says, "This relationship is the kind that makes Glenmary's home mission work possible."
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of Home Mission News.