Saint James reminds us in his letter that faith without works is dead. St. Paul, while realizing that our good works cannot earn us salvation, reminds the early Christians of the necessity of putting their faith into practice, exhorting them to care for the widows, orphans, and those in need, and even taking up collections to assist the needy in other churches.
I have been impressed in my four years here at Holy Cross Parish by the level of social outreach offered by our parishioners. Our social ministry is coordinated by our Social Action Commission chaired by a very active and committed parishioner involved in a number of parish activities.
The first weekend of each month is designated as Outreach Sunday when parishioners are invited to donate food, clothing, and other items that are sent to several social agencies in the area, such as a women’s shelter and MainSpring Homeless Shelter located in the nearby city of Brockton, the local Birthright, and My Brother’s Keeper, a ministry constructed on C.S.C. land next to Stonehill College that provides furniture and clothing in southeastern Massachusetts. A number of Holy Cross parishioners (along with many Stonehill students) volunteer on a regular basis at My Brother’s Keeper.
Our parish St. Vincent de Paul Society provides food vouchers for those coming to the parish center looking for assistance. Members of the society will visit the home of someone seeking help with rent or utilities to ascertain the extent of their need and to offer the appropriate assistance. The collections from all the Holy Day masses in the parish (well, minus Christmas!) are dedicated to our St. Vincent de Paul Society, and the excess not needed by them funds small scholarships for our parish teens entering college.
Holy Cross Parish is twinned with Lord of Hope Parish in Canto Grande, Peru, a parish of over 200,000 people staffed by the Congregation of Holy Cross. The mission appeal here each summer is given by a Holy Cross religious and is taken up for our sister parish. In addition, many parishioners make a donation for the people of Canto Grande as part of our Giving Tree, which collects several hundred Christmas gifts every year for those in need.
The annual Catholic Charities Appeal is an important means by which the parish supports the outreach efforts of the Diocese of Fall River. A number of parishioners sign up each month to provide dinner for MainSpring Homeless Shelter in Brockton. Our Respect Life Committee has been active in offering liturgical services and educational programs for the parish. Those parishioners who belong to the Easton Knights of Columbus participate in many service projects through the Knights. The parishioners of Holy Cross also have been very generous in the past few years when special collections have been taken for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan, and other recent natural disasters.
God has blessed Holy Cross with many committed and generous parishioners through whom the parish puts its faith into practice, helping to “make God known, loved, and served” among those most in need.
Fr. Jim Fenstermaker, C.S.C., is Pastor of Holy Cross Parish in South Easton, Mass. He is a monthly contributor to the Spes Unica Blog, reflecting on the work of Holy Cross in parish ministry. Learn more about the work of Holy Cross priests and brothers in parochial ministry as we seek to bring hope to the Church and world.