Holy Cross Day of Service Opens Conversation about Outreach to Parishioners

Parishioners from age six to 80-plus participated in Martin Luther King Day project

Volunteers decorated covers of Holy Cross care packages for homebound parishioners

Twenty-five Holy Cross Catholic Church parishioners – from age six to 80-plus – participated in the parish’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on January 20. The service project, held at Holy Cross, served both parishioners and clients of the Durham Community Food Pantry.

“It was wonderful to be here,” one of the more senior participants wrote on a comment sheet as the event ended. “Everybody was cheerful, and all was for the Lord. And (it was) a great way to reach out to the truly needy and the lonely.”

The ‘reaching out’ project had several parts. In the weeks prior to the day of service, Holy Cross parishioners generously responded to a request for donations of single-serving snack foods for diabetic clients of the Durham Community Food Pantry, and personal care items for Holy Cross's homebound parishioners. 

On the day of service, volunteers decorated and filled 15 personal care packages for members of the parish who are not able to get out and about. See the volunteer's artwork on the care package boxes in the photo above.

A second part of the Holy Cross project was to filled 135 plastic food bags with individual-serving packages of snacks appropriate for those on a diabetic diet, including almonds, pretzels, crackers and beef sticks.

Holy Cross parishioners preparing diabetic snack packages for Durham Community Food Pantry



The snack bags will be delivered to the Durham Community Food Pantry for distribution to their clients. This part of the project helps in two ways. It provides healthy snack foods for the pantry’s clients with diabetes. It also helps pantry volunteers, as the pre-filled bags will save time when gathering groceries from the Pantry’s shelves for clients.

“They will just be able to insert in a client’s food order one of our pre-filled bags (instead of gathering up the items from the Pantry’s supply shelves),” said Ava Thompson, coordinator of Holy Cross’s Peace, Justice and Human Development Commission, which led this project.

After both projects were completed, a reflection session showed the impact that the Day of Service had on the participants. One of the youngest wrote on a comment sheet: “I feel good about helping others.” He had accompanied his grandmother to the event. She, in turn, wrote: “It was a wonderful opportunity to share with my grandson the need to help others. We are grateful that we could share with others.”

Another volunteer wrote, “It was lovely to work together with Holy Cross parishioners.”

And one said that, while he he enjoyed the day of service, he had also hoped to help with an outdoor project – moving paving sand from a driveway to create walking paths on the church grounds. That opportunity was postponed due to below-freezing temperatures on the day of service. Watch for details about that project when warmer weather returns; send an email to communications@holycrossdurham.org if interested in helping.

One of the younger volunteers reflected the sentiment within the group of volunteers: “This was an awesome opportunity to come together as a community, to serve others. I am thankful to be a part of this amazing church community.”

It’s always important to remember that
little acts of kindness can make a difference to others.”

And another participant wrote: “Hope our work brightens someone’s day. It’s always important to remember that little acts of kindness can make a difference to others.”

Sharing the written comments led to a conversation about the importance of reaching out to homebound individuals.

“The homebound probably need us the most,” said Celina Umaru. “It’s nice what we did here today, to let them know we are thinking about them.” Phone calls are nice, too, she said.

Keep in touch with parishioners,
inform parish staff when pastoral care is needed.

That led to a follow-up discussion about how to keep the pastor and parish staff informed when individuals become homebound or are hospitalized, so that visits and other pastoral care can be arranged. One key step is to stay in touch with parishioners by phone or visits, and to call when they have not been at church recently.

Two options currently exist: send an email message to pastor@holycrossduham.org, or call the parish office at 919-957-2900.  The parish website, which is in the process of being updated, will include a prominent icon that parishioners can click to request pastoral care, for themselves or for other parishioners in need.

Parishioners interested in continuing a discussion about pastoral care outreach or other social action topics are welcome to contact Ava Thompson by email at socialaction@holycrossdurham.org.

Other Holy Cross parishioners celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by singing with the AAMEN choir or praying with the community at the diocesan Martin Luther King Day morning mass at the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. 

Tags: Durham Community Food Pantry', Diabetic Snack Packages, Homebound parishioners, Care packages, Justice and Human Development Commission, Peace, Social Action, Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service, pastoral care

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