Putting faith into action through Christian Service Ministry

By Ginny Revel

As staff liaison to Grand Junction’s Immaculate Heart of Mary’s Christian Service ministry, pastoral assistant Bev Goodrich has been intimately involved with this ministry’s programs for many years. She and the other members of this service and social justice committee have fond recollections of all they’ve accomplished in improving the situations of the Grand Valley’s neediest.

Christian Service was one of a series of IHM ministries organized by Fr. James Plough when he was pastor there in the 1990s. Along with the parish activities ministry, the liturgical ministry and a few others, Christian Service ministry provides ample opportunities for parishioners to put their faith and the social teachings of the Church into action. Additionally, the IHM pastoral council members were originally drawn from these ministries, two at a time to serve staggered terms, thereby continuing the spirit of social conscience in the capacity of advisors to the pastor.

Parish involvement and cohesiveness were natural outgrowths of the Christian Service projects, yet it didn’t stop there. The CSM members’ good works contributed to the greater community beyond the walls of the Church. The attitude of giving was nurtured among the members, but blossomed exponentially from there.

To name just a few, the brown bag food drive, the parish’s Advent and Lenten projects, the Garden project, the Alternative Christmas Fair, the IHM volunteer fair and the volunteer appreciation brunch were ventures that began and continued under the direction of CSM. These activities made visible the parish’s concern for the poor, while pulling parishioners together as they worked toward a common goal.

Because Christian Service ministry works hand-in-hand with other community resource organizations, it is well-qualified to make recommendations to the IHM finance committee as to the various charities the parish funds would make the most impact.

Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, Marillac Clinic, the Pregnancy Center and Habitat for Humanity are a few of the organizations that have benefited in the past from the Christian Service Ministry’s interest and generosity. Currently, only organizations associated with the Catholic Church, such as Grand Valley Catholic Outreach receive funds.

While the long-time members no longer hold meetings on a regular basis, they still engage in their life-altering service activities. Dara Miller, who joined CSM in 2003 as the representative for Habitat for Humanity, described the group’s Advent project, SPUNKids. In partnership with Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, the members are focusing on needy kids by collecting socks (S), pajamas (P) and underwear (UN) for them for Christmas.

Kids projects are near and dear to Dara’s heart. She recalled a past CSM collection of clothes for children who were removed from their broken homes by social services. Often these removals were done with no warning and the children left with the foster guardians with only the clothes on their backs or simply wrapped in blankets.

According to Dara, “Grandparents, understandably, are the most generous when it comes to donating anything having to do with children. Moved by their experiences with their own families, grandmothers would buy and donate tons and tons of clothes to shower on the kids.” She added, “This type of drive is always a resounding success.”

If you feel moved to join the CSM members at Immaculate Heart of Mary, please contact the parish office to become the hands and feet of Christ. If your parish does not have a similar ministry, consider speaking with your pastor about creating one.