Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, August 14

This weekend at all the Masses, we take up our monthly PERSONS IN NEED collection. Your donation is a phenomenal investment, paying wonderful dividends in the amount of help and relief it provides and in the spiritual benefits that accrue to you.

Half of this collection goes to support our parish chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVdP). This organization is one of the jewels of our parish. They do a great deal with a lot of compassion and commitment but not much money. Your donation is one of the best returns on investment that you can make. Unfortunately, with these tough times, the St. Vincent de Paul of St. Austin is being stretched to the limit. SVdP helps people in our neighborhood. In fact, they are limited to assisting the needy only in our five surrounding zip codes. They are  particularly short on food to help the hungry. Even though the need at our local Micah 6 food bank is great, I believe the need at our parish SVdP Society is even greater, and so for the next month or six weeks, we will divert the donations of food stuff that you bring in so that it goes to the St. Vincent de Paul pantry. Please donate food this month! There is more information in this bulletin about that.

The other half of the Persons In Need collection goes to the Thursday Outreach Program. This is our effort to assist the needy who come to us who are homeless and so do not have a zip code as well as those who live outside our zip code area. It, too, is a wonderful work of our parish. We provide assistant with paying rent and utility bills and with obtaining ID’s, eye exams and glasses, work boots and work clothes.
If you ever want to see hands-on Christian charity in action then come most any Thursday morning to the church office between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Each week dozens of people come to us seeking assistance. People in need line up outside the door   before 9:00 most weeks, even though we hold a lottery drawing to determine which persons we will help and so no one needs to come early or be in a certain place in line. On July 28 there were 85 people at our door. Over the past month our total     number of persons seeking assistance on Thursday mornings has been between 80 and 95. Depending on the weather and the need, the numbers could be as low as 37 or as high as 117.

The clients are registered (they can receive help here only once in a six month period), provided with coffee and a donut, and we try to treat them with dignity. When the lottery  is held, we draw 10 to 15 names whom we can help, depending on how much money and how many volunteers we have that morning. The rest are invited back to try again the next week.

So I invite and encourage your generosity to the PERSONS IN NEED collection this weekend and every month. If you can contribute food in the next month, it is badly needed by the SVdP Society. If you are free on Thursday mornings and can volunteer with the Thursday Outreach Program, help is always needed. Just contact Pat Macy.

You will also see in this bulletin a continuing plea from Catholic Relief Services for help to relieve the famine in East Africa The need there is staggering. I am sure that if you are desperately hungry, and have no food, it matters little to you whether you are in Africa or in Austin.

Given the fragile nature of our economy, and the recent downturn of the stock market, the unsettled economic situation in Europe and the devastating effects of the drought, when we all feel financially insecure, it is naturally more difficult for us to be concerned about others and to be generous. This is truly a time that requires faith. It is a test of our Christian faith that requires us to put that Faith into action. Your generous donations of money, of food, of time and of prayer are urgently needed. I trust that St. Austin’s parishioners will respond generously. Thank you.

God bless!

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