Dear parish family and friends of St. Julia,
This weekend our scripture readings will send us a message loud and clear: "Seek the Lord." We must give our whole being to God. We must follow Jesus with all our strength. This also means reaching out to our poor and marginalized sisters and brothers.
One of the takeaways from our first Town Hall Meeting held on November 14th was the desire for greater outreach to the poor in our community. Some ideas were shared, and I will admit that I struggled to bite my teeth into this one and to wrap my mind around what was proposed. Admittedly, gearing up for the Advent and Christmas season and the preparations and celebrations in our parish was my focus. You will see below that I have set our next Town Hall meeting date, and in the back of my mind, I was saddened to think that no action has taken place with respect to this proposal. I will also admit that I need greater assistance to implement the ideas presented.
Come Holy Spirit. God has put remarkable people in my path here at St. Julia these past 3 plus years to get so many of our projects and initiatives done or up and running. This past Tuesday, I had a funeral director come in to see me to update their records on the celebration of funerals here at St. Julia and more. I then asked this gentlemen about his family, and our conversation took a remarkable turn.
This man has no family. His parents are deceased. No siblings. No one. He is connected to Southridge and New Hope Churches. Some years ago, he began to deliver food to the homeless in St. Catharines. That evolved to renting a storage unit for clothing to be distributed. The storage unit is now empty because the need is so great in our community. He and his now team deliverd some 800 meals on New Year's Day, ending at 11:30 p.m., to shelters and those on the streets and in encampments. Then he told me about the encampment behind Cats Caboose. Some 60 people live in there. I was taken back by all this. We talked about the downtown, and other locations throughout the city. In his outreach, he said there are probably around 150 people sleeping outside on any given night. He never gives cash. Nor does he himself ever take cash for his ministry.
So, here is where we can help in his outreach efforts. Here is what is needed for men and women for immediate distribution:
- sleeping bags
- mittens and gloves
- prepackaged cutlery
I invite you to bring these items to our church and continue to do so. He will pick them up / we will deliver to him. He will get these items to those in need as he and his team are out several times a week. He calls himself and his team "Matthew 25 Ministries."
This is just the start of this conversation, and assistance and outreach to the poor, quite litterally right in our backyard. As I learned firsthand, homelessness, and unfortunately the other problems that led to this, is a major problem in our community. As "a caring community" this is our opportunity to yet again put our faith into action.
May God bless each of you and those that you love, and I look forward to seeing you at mass this weekend. We welcome a number of our grade 6/7 students from St. Peter Catholic Elementary School to our 9:00 a.m. mass who will lead us in our ministries.
From Our Pastor