Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
A week ago Saturday I was walking from our usual 8am Confessions to celebrating a 9am Mass at our Sisters’ Convent. I was cutting through the Courtyard Meeting Room and I came upon this bunch of wrappin’ elves. I took a picture. It is group of women in the parish who are always quietly going about their business doing all kinds of things you probably will never know about. I am very grateful to them for all that they do.
They were wrapping books for children: children the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter, children in the Migrant and Refugee Services program of Catholic Charities, and children at the Children’s Oncology Ward and Mary Washington Hospital. The books themselves—more than 100—were donated by our children at Saint Mary Preschool.
I was just filled with joy. (It was the basis of my homily for this past Sunday—see page 9 if you’re interested in hearing it.) Joy because I know God is SO pleased with the work that we do. We are building a culture of joy. And you inspire me.
Actually, that is what I love most about our community at Saint Mary. We just do these things because it is normal for us to do them. Without a lot of fanfare, without any expectation of being recognized. I am so grateful that you “get it.”
I recently did a summary of all the things we do for Catholic Charities: we are able to check every box in their survey which seeks to know how parishes are involved in outreach in the diocese. We are involved in emergency assistance for providing clothing (both collections and distribution), financial assistance and emergency food boxes for people who come to us. We have huge collections of food for the Food Bank and have several significant ministries who prepare food for people and deliver it. We support and collect furniture for our Refugee Services.
We are deeply involved in Micah Ecumenical Ministries as a principal source of volunteers as well as support in their amazingly successful rapid rehousing programs to end homelessness and care for our neighbors who are less fortunate. Our involvement with Mary’s Shelter, Birthright the cold night shelter, as well as community dinners, homeless lunches (Holy Cross) and summer meals for kids at Stafford Junction are an incredible blessing in the lives of so many.
Our sponsorship of the Family Counseling Center next door is one of the best things we have ever done as hundreds of people receive the care they need through Catholic Charities. Counseling and support groups for teens and families continue to be a vital outreach. This year we added a staff nurse to care for our physical health, as well.
We reach out to our parishioners in need with the senior luncheons, ministry visits to nine nursing homes and the hospital by staff, volunteers, religious education teams and Holy Cross Academy programs, and receptions at funerals. More than a dozen Christmas programs crown the year with your goodness. Thank you for being so generous with your time, your talents and your treasure for the good of all God’s good people. May our example continue to widen the circle of God’s love, especially now that his love is about to become visible among us. Merry Christmas. May your goodness return to you a hundred-fold.
God bless you.