Mary Kay Leary and Julie Rudden of Good Shepherd Children and Family Services reacted swiftly when their colleague Colleen Dille read aloud a thank-you card from a man named Albert.
“Awwwww,” they said in unison.
Dille, education coordinator at the Catholic Charities agency, smiled and said, “Awesome. I love it.”
The thank-you cards were sent by volunteers from five parishes who are part of a Catholic Charities’ Parish Ambassadors program. They sought to show appreciation for the workers continuing to care for children and families during the coronavirus pandemic. Good Shepherd’s services include a maternity shelter and transitional living program for women who otherwise would be homeless; a treatment foster care and foster care programs; and a pregnancy and parenting support program.
Leary called the gesture “a reminder that people are supporting us and praying for us.”
Barbara Murray of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Parish said several parishioners “jumped at the chance” to send notes of encouragement and thanks to Catholic Charities employees. Sixteen women in her parish helped, either with hand-making cards, by purchasing cards or writing notes. In all, they made about 350 notes and cards for workers at Saint Louis Counseling, Queen of Peace Center, St. Martha’s Hall, Cardinal Ritter Senior Services and St. Francis Community Services.
“The women were amazing,” Murray said, noting that one person did 100 on her own. “Not a single person I asked wouldn’t do it.”
One parishioners made copies of a Prayer in a Time of Pandemic and included it in with the note. Another parishioner included a holy card with each note. “We wanted to connect with them, show appreciation, encourage them and let them know they are essential,” Murray said of the appreciation of staff at the agencies.
Some parishioners are feeling isolated, she said, and this activity helped them by reaching out to others.
Catholic Charities’ Parish Ambassadors program keeps parishioners informed about Catholic Charities, letting them know about fundraising events and the good that they do in the community as well as advocacy efforts. Murray said that the ambassadors at her parish went on tours of some of the Catholic Charities agencies and were impressed by the help that is provided to people in need.
The Parish Ambassadors program began in 2019, starting with seven parishes. It’s led by Lisa Shea, marketing and communications manager of Catholic Charities of St. Louis. More than 1,200 letters/notes were needed for this effort, she said.
Annunziata Parish Ambassador Lyn Grace explained her parish’s experience through numbers: The parish sought to do 150 letters for Cardinal Ritter Senior Services. Grace said a prayer that there would be enough letter-writers, and that prayer was answered, providing 150 smiles on Cardinal Ritter Senior Services employees.
Parishioners wrote 149 with a last-minute letter added by a 15-year-old to meet the need. That letter, Grace explained, was addressed to “Dear Mr. Ritter.”
Twenty of the letters were tied with bows; one parishioner wrote 33 letters.
An Annunziata letter-writer told Grace that “it was a gift for me more than those for whom I wrote the thank-you letter. I felt needed, and it was something I could do to share my Catholic faith.”
>> Catholic Charities
Staff of Good Shepherd
Children and Family Services have been busy during the coronavirus
pandemic, as have the seven other Catholic Charities affiliated
The goal of Good Shepherd is to serve at-risk children
who are poor, abandoned, abused, and neglected; troubled families facing
a crisis pregnancy; and families seeking to adopt throughout the
metropolitan St. Louis area and surrounding counties.
Charities, a recipient of Annual Catholic Appeal funding, has ramped up
its efforts since the pandemic. Mary Kay Leary, business director at
Good Shepherd, said the supplies her agency have received from the
central office “takes a burden off of us.”
Lisa Shea, marketing
and communications director for Catholic Charities, said the ties of the
family of agencies have been a blessing and a strength during times of
struggle for people.
The other Catholic Charities agencies are St.
Patrick Center, St. Martha’s Hall, Queen of Peace Center, Marygrove,
Cardinal Ritter Senior Services, Saint Louis Counseling and St. Francis
Community Services. For information, visit www.ccstl.org.
Catholic Charities Parish Ambassadors program supports the agencies and
helps with advocacy. For information, contact Lisa Shea, (314) 256-5927
or [email protected].