Our Lady of Lourdes
Parish Community

Parish Ministries
Moving Hearts
Moving Hearts... Telling Our Stories
Touching Lives Through Stewardship

A Message from our Pastor

To my dear parishioners,

From the first moments of being appointed pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in August of 2003 until today, I have been humbled by the generosity and support offered by so many in our parish community. Whether it be parish related (the offering of one's time and talent as a catechist in our Youth Catechesis Program), community related (the outpouring of support for the Shepherd's Meal and the Interfaith Hospitality Network), nationally (support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina) or globally (our unceasing support of the men and women serving in our armed forces throughout the world), the parish family of OLL does not stand back and let someone else do the work.

Scripture reminds us that "of those who have been given much, much is expected". We here at OLL have been gifted in so many ways - great families, good health and a loving community. God is waiting to give us much more - all we need to do is open our hearts to be moved. In the pages that follow you will find not just descriptions of our parish ministries and outreach opportunities, but stories from those who serve and were served, who extended a hand, offered support, experienced love and caring, and kindled new friendships. Take a few moments to read and reflect not only on the "bare bones" of the ministry, but also the personal experiences and rewards of those who serve. You may be surprised at how a simple gesture can make a difference in you, just as it is making a difference in someone else's life.

This booklet is much more than a recruiting tool; it is also a resource manual. Take advantage of the services offered, such as the Ministry of Consolation, the Prayer Chain and our newest ministry, the Little Praisers. Open yourself to the love and fellowship that will warm your heart and heal the hardening caused by the way the world has treated us. Open yourself to recognize the possibilities that await you here at YOUR parish, in your extended family.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor's Signature

A Message from the Stewardship Committee

Stories... When we were youngsters, we begged our parents to read us stories. We became enraptured with the colors, the characters and the unfolding events. As we got older, we shared stories about experiences and memories of times past. And once we will have passed from this life, friends and loved ones will cherish stories that keep our memory alive.

Stories help to connect us to each other. Jesus used stories to instruct his disciples and to inspire hope for the people of his time ... and our time. Every story elicits some emotional response in our hearts - what we remember, where we were, how we felt, and how we were touched.

Our Stewardship theme, "Moving Hearts... Telling Our Stories," reminds us that God speaks to us most intimately in the depths of our hearts. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary when she received the angel Gabriel's message, the disciples who encountered the risen Messiah on the road to Emmaus, St. Paul during his conversion in Damascus and so many other examples in sacred Scripture and the lives of the saints, our hearts burn within us when we are open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.

God calls us not only to receive His love but to share it by loving and serving others. Through ministry, we are the hands and heart of Jesus for our brothers and sisters within the parish and beyond. By serving others, we touch their hearts and change their lives. But this is not all... we ourselves are transformed by the fulfillment we receive in return. Our hearts move closer to God, often beyond our wildest dreams.

This directory of parish ministries was created as a labor of love by and for the people of our parish. Through these pages, we share the stories of those whose hearts have been moved in their ministry experiences. As you read these stories, imagine how the people in these situations felt... and how you would feel if you had been there.

We encourage you to think of the ministries as opportunities to give as well as to receive. Many of our parish ministries invoke the healing power of Christ or personally bring comfort to those in need. For example, the Ministry to the Sick and Homebound shares time, prayer and the Eucharist with the ill and confined on a regular basis; the Starfish Food Pantry provides food for those experiencing financial difficulties; and the Ministry of Consolation comforts those who are grieving the death of a loved one. Contact information for ministry leaders appears in the following pages - please call on them in any situation where the prayers and support of your parish family can help you through life's difficult challenges.

To reaffirm your ministry commitment or to inquire about/sign-up for a ministry, please visit the "Directory of Parish Ministries" button on the left side of this page. There you will be able to review information and stories from more than 40 ministries. Then you can indicate your interest with a simple point-and-click from the "Sign-Up for Ministries" button. A member of each ministry you select will get in contact with you. We ask that families please submit a separate entry for each family member wishing to serve in ministry.

If you prefer to submit your ministry selections in hard copy form, you may print out blank sign-up forms from the "Sign-Up for Ministries" page. You can drop these off at the parish office.

Finally, just as our individual journeys of faith continue to evolve, we know that the story of our parish family's faith journey continues to be written. We would like to know the stories of your experience in ministry - how your heart or the heart of someone you know has been moved by serving in ministry or receiving its benefits. If you have a story to share, please email it to stewardship@ollwhs.org. The name of any person submitting a story shall remain anonymous. Please continue to check the bulletin and website for new stories of love, courage and faith.

Moving Hearts
Altar Servers

Contact:
Fr. Len , 534-2319, ext 11
altarserver@ollwhs.org
Ministry Logo

Train up a child in a way he should go, and he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Description: This ministry offers the youth of our parish the opportunity to play an active role in today's liturgy. These boys and girls assist at Mass and sometimes in funerals, baptisms and weddings. Interested youth, grade four and older, are encouraged to sign up.

Time Commitment: As scheduled

"I have been an Altar Server for six years and I plan to continue until I go to college. Being an Altar Server is interesting because it gives a whole different view on Mass. I also get to teach younger servers because I have been altar serving for so long. The most treasured memory I have is when I served for the Easter Vigil when my sister was baptized. This was very special to me because I got to see her be baptized up close. I was also helping Father Len which gave me this special connection that I was part of my sister’s baptism. I have many other memories from my past altar serving experiences however that Easter will stick with me for the rest of my life. Being an Altar Server is a fun job. You get to meet new people and help with the Mass. I believe that when you are doing something for the church you are doing something for God."

Baptismal Garment Ministry

Contact:
Paula Fasano
bapgarment@ollwhs.org

Late spring is when irises bloom in profusion. Many species favor water, and irises that blossom by waterside (sometimes called "flags"), with their three-part flowers, are signs of Baptism in the name of the Trinity. This is why the iris is the symbol of our ministry.
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Clothing the Newly Baptized in Christ

Description: The Baptismal Garment seamstresses embroider garments given to those to be baptized. Work is done at home.

Time Commitment: As needed

"The baptismal garment started out in the mid 1980s as a bib that was simply laid on the baby during the baptismal ceremony. Eventually, we realized that a garment that could fit over the head was needed for older children who would be standing during the ceremony – hence the 2 sided version of the bib that became the 'garment' of today. Our ministry made about 70 bibs per year in the 1990s, and although we don't have a recent annual count, the number has grown considerably, along with the number of ministry members and new, little parishioners being baptized.

The garments are lovingly hand stitched by members of our ministry. So, as the garment is placed over your child's head, remember that our personal thoughts and prayers bless each and every one!"

Pre-Baptism (Baptism Preparation Ministry)

Contact:
Bridget Hackman
bapprep@ollwhs.org


See what love
the Father has bestowed
on us that we may be
called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
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"Let the Little Children Come to Me"

Description: The Pre-Baptism Team helps parents to prepare for their child's baptism into the community of the Church.

Time Commitment: Pre-Baptism sessions are conducted semi-monthly.

"Baptism preparation is a time of great anticipation and excitement. Young parents often attend our sessions before the birth of their baby, and the joy and enthusiasm they bring are contagious. This is usually the case...

Another session had begun, and people were taking their seats. I was surprised to see a young couple sitting alone, clearly ill at ease. When I went to them and invited them to join a group, I realized how much younger they were than the other couples... and then I saw that there were no wedding bands on their fingers. The young girl stood when I greeted her. Visibly embarrassed, she whispered, "I know we're doing things backwards." It could have been an awkward moment if the young mother at the table behind me hadn't jumped up and hugged the young girl and said, "We're all here to bring our children to Jesus. Welcome to the family!"

By the end of the session, the young couple had made many friends, gathered many birthing and parenting tips, and they left smiling.

This is the beauty of our Parish Family. We love each other, we support each other and all are welcome in this place!"

Beyond Sunday

Contact:
Joline Frank , 534-2319 x12
beyondsunday@ollwhs.org


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There is always MORE!

Description: Adult Education and Spiritual Formation for those able to attend a morning program; allowing our parishioners opportunities to deepen their faith, through greater understanding of scripture, worship, and Catholic teachings. In depth varied topics are announced weekly in the bulletin. Newcomers are always welcomed.

Time Commitment: Tuesdays from 10am to noon.

"Your faith is not only about going to church on Sunday. There is more knowledge out there to help us continue to grow in our faith. Having attained the "Golden Years," it still surprises me that there is always more to learn about our faith, our Church and our God. This is why I enjoy attending "Beyond Sunday" on Tuesday mornings.

This year we concentrated on the parables of Jesus. Looking at them in depth, I gained some new insights and a deeper understanding of them.

We are free to ask questions and share ideas in this class. I learn and am encouraged and challenged by listening to what others have to share."

Blood drive
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Pat McDermott
blooddrive@ollwhs.org


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Giving the Gift of Life

Description: Every minute of every day, someone needs blood. Twice each year, the parish hosts a blood drive in conjuncton with the New Jersey Blood Services. A team of parishioners helps organize the room where donations are given, staffing the sign-in station and providing food and fellowship for donors after they have given blood.

Time Commitment: The blood drives are held after all Masses on a Sunday. Team members work in shifts of 1 - 3 hours based on their availability.

"My sister Cathy's life was saved by a blood transfusion at birth, so I always appreciated the need for donating blood. My father, Owen, is in the gallon donors club and has been a role model to me for many years in this regard. I enjoy leading the blood drive because it shows how we can join together as a community to help those in need. I am always struck by the miracle of donating blood and realize that it is the most important gift - the gift of life. I value the team of OLL volunteers and the Blood Center nurses who come to our parish. All this makes me realize just how interconnected we really are. There is an added bonus at our blood drive too - Annie's delicious coffee cake in the canteen afterward!"

Catechists for Youth Formation

Contact:
Liz Systo , 534-2319 x17
catechists@ollwhs.org

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Through the Eyes of a Child

Description: Our Lady of Lourdes offers Youth Catechesis formal classes in the Catholic faith from Grades 1 to 8. Our lay catechists are the backbone of this program.

Time Commitment: September to May on Monday or Tuesday evenings.

"We all have memories of childhood teachers, coaches and mentors who left a lasting impression. Their message is still meaningful and we remember important things they said and examples they gave throughout our lives.

As a new teacher in the OLL program, I never anticipated the impression I would leave on my students until the end of my first year teaching 8th grade...

It was a warm May evening, and we decided to hold our last class on the hill over the grotto. We sat on the grass, and I invited each student to share a favorite memory of the year. Many mentioned learning the meaning of familiar prayers or the mysteries of the Rosary. Others enjoyed the lively discussions and debates in class.

Then the last student spoke, "The most memorable moment is the one we're having right now. You have brought us so close to Jesus. I feel like we're with Him right now on the Mount of Olives!"

I never expected to have such an impact, and in a way I felt unworthy, humbled, and most of all, blessed and fortunate to have had this opportunity.

After seven years, I am still teaching. Of course there are times when I feel pressured. There are so many chores, demands, obligations, but none bring me the fulfillment that I get from teaching the message of our Savior to our children. Let the chores wait!"

Charismatic Prayer Ministry

Contact:
Robert Borghese
Fran Zangara
prayergroup@ollwhs.org

Worship and Praise God
Love and Support one another
Seek a Personal Relationship with Jesus
Use the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Spread the Good News...
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Yield to the Power of the Holy Spirit

Description: Charismatic Prayer Group gathers each Tuesday evening at 7:30 in the Sacred Heart Chapel for scripture, song and prayer. They build up the community with their prayerfulness.

Time Commitment: Every Tuesday evening at 7:30

"My husband Tony and I had both attended Catholic Schools and knew God intellectually. Through our participation in a "Life in the Spirit Seminar", we came to believe in our hearts that God loved each of us personally. We saw Him as our own Lord and Savior, as a friend and companion on the journey. It changed our lives."

"Father Cogan, the pastor at the time, gave his approval for a weekly prayer meeting at Our Lady of Lourdes. The power of the Holy Spirit and the loving support of the prayer group were a source of strength for us. For the last 17 1/2 years of Tony's life, he was quadriplegic, but we knew God was with us every step of way. He showed His goodness through Tony's paralysis and drew our family into a closely bonded unit as we helped each other take care of him. All who knew Tony saw that he exuded the peace and joy of the Lord. He could frequently be heard saying, "God is good all the time". Tony believed this with all his heart and trusted in God's love for him. That same trust continues to sustain me. Praise God!"

"I have personally benefited by participating in the Charismatic Prayer Group in many ways. I have come to love the scriptures, and I often find God speaking to me through His word. My appreciation and love for my Catholic faith has deepened. I have a community of friends who share their faith and encourage mine. Most of all, because of our focus on the Holy Spirit, I have deeper awareness of His presence and guidance in my life. The Holy Spirit we receive in Baptism and Confirmation is not just a one-time gift. We can call on Him at any time to enlighten, guide, strengthen and console us."

"The Our Lady of Lourdes prayer group, founded by the late Tony Kearns, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. We have prayed with many people and seen happiness and tragedy. We have also seen that Peace and Joy are not just Christmas wishes, but gifts given by the Holy Spirit when we need to overcome difficulty in our lives.

My life was going along rather smoothly when my husband died suddenly at the age of 43. I found love and peace in abundance through members of the prayer group and the parish family, and I knew that God was ministering to me through them. Open yourself to the Holy Spirit and say "Yes." to God. He will bless you in so many ways."

Children's Liturgy of the Word

Contact:
Jangie Jankiewicz
noahsfriends@ollwhs.org
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Bring the Word of God to Life for our Children

Description: The Children’s Liturgy of the Word (CLOW) provides an opportunity for our younger parishioners (pre-K through second grade) to experience scripture and prayer in an age-appropriate manner. When CLOW is scheduled at the 9:30 Mass, the children are dismissed with the leader after the opening prayer and are led to the Old Church Hall or classrooms. During this time, the Leader opens with prayer, proclaims God’s Word, reflects upon the readings through dialogue, and leads the children in the Renewal of Baptismal Promises and Prayers of the Faithful. The children then rejoin the assembly at Preparation.

Time Commitment: 9:30 Mass on some Sundays, September through May.

"It is great to see the little hands go up to answer questions. Their faces light up when they learn something new. It is such a reward to help children appreciate and learn about God through participation in the Liturgy of the Mass."

~

"It is very difficult to leave mass, after teaching the children, without a smile on your face. I dare you to try."

Parish Clothing Drive
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Joan and Jim Garboski
clothingdrive@ollwhs.org


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Lord, when did we see you naked and clothe you?

Description: OLL conducts two clothing drives during the year – one in the spring and one in the fall. Clothing must be clean and in good condition, suitable for babies, children, youth and adults who are in need. All clothing to be donated should be placed into plastic bags. Donated clothes are picked up and distributed by the Rescue Mission of Trenton, an agency that serves needy men and women who have no place to turn for shelter, food, and clothing. The Mission provides a safe, clean, warm refuge for the homeless, the hungry, the transient, and the addicted. Some of the clothing is sold in the Mission store to raise money for other programs, and some is given directly to those most in need.

Time Commitment: Twice a year, for approximately 2 hours.

"Every year we fill up an entire truck. One of the men from the Trenton Mission commented about the generosity of those who come to drop off bags of clothing. He talked about how important the clothing drive is to the Mission. He told me how he had seen men and women go on job interviews looking their best because of the help of these donors. One small gift can offer so much hope and provide new beginnings for our brothers and sisters in need."

Ministry of Consolation

Contact:
Virginia Martin
Joline Frank , 534-2319 ext.12
consolation@ollwhs.org

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Consoling our Brothers and Sisters when they Need it Most

Description: The bereavement ministry assists individuals in coping with the death of a loved one by providing a support group. "Pathway Towards Peace" sessions begin twice each year in spring and fall and consist of an eight-week series held on consecutive Tuesday nights.

  • We talk about the grieving process and the fears and anxiety that confront us every day.
  • While no one can make your sadness disappear, we can work to make it manageable.
  • It is often helpful to discover that you are not alone in your grief.
  • Sometimes it is easier to tell things to strangers than to family and friends.
  • Members may also help the family of the deceased to prepare a funeral liturgy for their loved one.

Time Commitment: Training for the support program and liturgy preparation.

"We are forever changed after the death of a loved one. People who care about us may desperately want us to be our old selves, and we may try, but the truth is that we are different. Too often our culture tells us we must, 'Get on with our lives.' or 'Get over it.'. We are encouraged to get back to work and keep busy. More than 57 years ago, I experienced the death of much loved parent. To get through this terrible tragedy, my father encouraged us to dig our heels in and keep going. There was no time for grieving, no mention of our deceased parent, and no opportunity to deal with this enormous loss. So for many years, we kept the sadness within. When people expressed sadness that my parent had died, I would say 'Oh, it's okay, my father remarried and we have a very good stepmother.'

Not long ago, I came to realize that it was NOT okay. I finally allowed myself to give a voice to my heartache and to feel sad about the situation. Once I accepted this reality, I was free to move on in an emotionally healthy manner. I still miss my parent, but I no longer feel off balance. I have a special place in my heart where that love resides, and it is always a part of me.

Unresolved grief is like a festering wound. The sore might heal for a time, but the underlying infection emerges again and again until it is treated. We can hide our grief and try to ignore it, but until we allow the sadness to come out, we will never be free of the festering wound.

And so this is how I became involved in the Ministry of Consolation. We are a small group of medical professionals or educators who volunteer to work with people in managing their grief. Our training and our own experiences allow us to bring a sensitivity which many people have found comforting. If you or someone you care about is dealing with a significant loss – whether that loss was last week, last month, last year, or more than fifty years ago – it is never too late to walk the 'Pathway Towards Peace'."

Eucharistic Adoration

Contact:
Joan Borghese
eucharistadoration@ollwhs.org

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A Visit with Jesus

Description: The Blessed Sacrament is exposed and adored by the faithful each First Friday after the morning mass from 9:00am to 12 noon in the Sacred Heart Chapel. Parishioners/worshipers are needed to keep watch for one-hour intervals.

Time Commitment: One hour on the First Friday of the month.

"I first became aware of Jesus in the monstrance when I was in the 3rd grade. It was my first year in a Catholic school and the nun who taught us suggested we visit Jesus in church while waiting for our school bus to come. I will always remember the beauty of the monstrance with Jesus in the center. I remember going up close and thinking this was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. It was the first time I had seen Jesus in the monstrance. After that, I was always touched by 40 hour devotions; and then in 1989 a church in my area started having Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. I signed up for an hour every Saturday afternoon. I can't tell you the peace and joy this hour has given me. I would go to Adoration for my Saturday hour sometimes with a happy heart, sometimes with a sad heart, or anxious heart and would always leave with the peace that only Jesus can give. When we moved to New Jersey, I continued my Eucharist Adoration at St Ann's in Hampton and I'm now happy to support Our Lady of Lourdes Eucharist Adoration."

"The peace and joy experienced during Eucharistic Adoration is a respite for the faithful during which they recharge their batteries in this hectic world. Spending an hour face to face with Jesus is the perfect environment for contemplative prayer. Many Saints have witnessed to the graces of Eucharistic Adoration."

"To converse with You, O King of glory, no third person is needed. You are always ready in the Sacrament of the Altar to give audience to all. All who desire You always find You there, and converse with You face to face." (~St. Teresa of Avila)

Eucharistic Ministers

Contact:
Fr. Len , 534-2319, ext. 11
eucharisticmin@ollwhs.org

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Bringing the Body of Christ to His People

Description: Eucharistic Ministers share in the work of ministering Christ's Body and Blood to the people of our parish. It is a ministry of welcoming and healing, caring and sharing. New ministers are trained to develop an understanding of the Ministry, as well as the 'how to' of the ministry.

Time Commitment: As scheduled.

"As a Eucharistic Minister, I have had the privilege of experiencing so many beautiful moments:

  • The faith in a child's eyes as she reaches upward to receive the Host
  • A hospital-bound communicant telling me that I arrived "just at the right time" to bring him the comfort of Jesus' presence
  • A new mother gazing lovingly at her baby as we recite the Our Father before she receives the Eucharist

This is my reward, to see that truly, where there is love, God is present."

Facilities Committee

Contact:
Joanne Vinciguerra
facilities@ollwhs.org


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Church…More Than a Building

Description: We are a group of concerned parishioners who oversee the physical needs of our parish buildings and grounds. Through our professional backgrounds or experiences we are able to assist the pastor with recommendations, bids or advice to keep our facilities in good working order.

Time Commitment: The group meets four (4) times per year.

"Sharing my time and talent is so rewarding. I find the more I give the more I want to give. We have been blessed with a very active and appreciative parish with so much to do and so many varied opportunities. Now that we are retired we just cannot think of leaving OLL and this loving community."

Family Liturgy

Contact:
Jangie Jankiewicz
familyliturgy@ollwhs.org

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Deepening the Family Experience of the Mass

Description: Family Liturgy is offered at the 9:30 Mass once a month from September through May. Children participate in the liturgy as altar servers, lectors,ushers and gift bearers.

Time Commitment: 9:30 Mass once a month from September through May

"One of my fondest memories is of the month we had the religious education class take all the roles: lectors, ushers, gift bearers. It was great to see their confidence grow as they rehearsed, and also to witness their parents' commitment to their participation. Hopefully this will lead to long term support of the students' practice of their faith."

Funeral Repast Ministry

Contact:
Carol Briski , 534-2319
funeralrepast@ollwhs.org


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Feeding the Poor in Spirit

Description: The Funeral Repast Ministry coordinates volunteer cooks and servers to host a post-funeral meal for OLL parishioners and their guests.

Time Commitment: As needed

"The story of this ministry began 25 years ago when my father passed away at Christmastime. The impact of this tragedy during the holidays left me struggling with my own grief. It was all I could do to manage funeral arrangements; then I realized that there would be many guests who knew and loved my dad, and that I should provide a meal for them.

When my family and I contacted Father Gall to plan the funeral Mass, we confided in him that we were completely overwhelmed. He sympathized and contacted St. Joseph's in Bound Brook, the parish he had just left to come to Our Lady of Lourdes. They agreed to open up the parish hall to my post-funeral gathering.

At the repast, people raved about the quality of the food. It was homemade and abundant, and it was more than just ordinary fare! I explained that my friends from morning Mass had all pitched in and used their talents to put the meal together.

A while later, I was reflecting on the great act of charity my friends had done for me. It occurred to me that many people are confronted with the same situation I had faced, and that they deserved the same support. And so it was, that the Funeral Repast Ministry and its sister organization, the Ministry of Consolation, were born.

The funeral repast is truly a feast for the poor in spirit. Those who are too grief-stricken to coordinate such an event and prefer the warm support and comfort of the Parish Family to the impersonality of a restaurant now have somewhere turn.

Our volunteers are truly skilled and serve their brothers and sisters with joy that comes from the heart. I can't think of a better way to show love for someone in need!"

Green Thumb Ministry

Contact:
Ed Jankiewicz
greenthumb@ollwhs.org


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A piece of Eden on Earth, Guided by His hand, Sown in Faith, Hope & Love

Description: The Green Thumb Committee meets from April to early November. Our schedule is flexible based on the gardens' needs, and is weather dependent. The Committee tends to the garden beds around the church, community hall, the convent, and the rectory. On a seasonal and as-needed basis we plant, water, weed, and care for the gardens and pots.

Time Commitment: We welcome and appreciate any time you can give. Flexible, as needed.

"In the early spring of 2008, the plea in the bulletin appeared: 'Green Thumb Committee Leaders Needed.' I read the bulletin week after week and thought about whether I should step up to the plate and volunteer. Nina and I got talking gardens and decided to throw our names into the hat and see what happened, Well, next thing I knew Nina and I were at the church digging, weeding, moving shrubs, planting new garden beds, etc. We were able to do all this with our kids in tow - they could come along with us and play in the yard, help with the watering, and run their 'doggy day care' for the parish canines.

The Green Thumb ministry has been a wonderful experience for me. It's truly amazing how something so simple as caring for and enjoying the beauty of a garden can connect so many people together that might not otherwise have the pleasure of spending time together. Not only have the flowers flourished, but my relationship with the parish community has grown in ways I never imagined. For this, I am truly grateful".

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." (Mother Teresa)

Parish History Committee

Contact:
Stephanie Stevens , 534-2319, ext. 10
parishhistory@ollwhs.org


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For a Better Life: Our Lady of Lourdes Parish Family is Born

Description: Dedicated to gathering and documenting the continuing history of Our Lady of Lourdes Church

Time Commitment: Approximately 4 meetings per year

Our Story begins with a small community of Polish immigrants who came to the United States to escape poverty and oppression in their homeland - simply, for a better life.

The first Roman Catholics to arrive in the Whitehouse area had to endure serious challenges that threatened their dream, including cultural and religious isolation and outright bigotry manifested by visits from the Ku Klux Klan. But not even this could stop them from creating a home for their parish family to take root and grow.

"In 1923, there were forty seven Polish Catholic families in the White House area but no Roman Catholic Church or priest. To receive the sacraments of the Church, children and adults had to travel back to the city, an arduous and inconvenient journey to say the least..."

With faith and determination, the small Catholic community took action to build a better life and "Our Parish Story" began.

"The new church was to be named Our Lady of Lourdes and a young Polish priest, Father Mieczyslaw Konopka was to be the first pastor.

For six months Father Konopka lived on the second floor of Hyman Danzig's mill house on Mill Road. So poor was he that the only food he had was offered by parishioners. During this same time period, Mass was celebrated in the barn of Wladyslaw (Walter) Szablowski, commencing June 10, 1923."

Many parishioners may not know that Our Lady of Lourdes was built by the parishioners themselves from the ground up, from digging the foundation to hauling stones and building our landmark Grotto...

"Ground was broken for the new church, August 19, 1923. Much of the original site work was done by volunteer parishioners. As with any new parish involved in a building program, money was needed. The farmers and laborers who lived here were not wealthy and their gifts were from the heart. A $5.00 donation in 1923 would probably equal $75 to $100 today. So grateful were the parishioners that there were many five dollar gifts.

November 1923, Thanksgiving Day, marked the laying of the cornerstone and blessing of the church. Mass was held in the cellar of the unfinished church. At last the little congregation had moved out of Szablowski's barn and into the building, even if it was only the cellar."

Christmas Eve Mass! ...was the first official Mass in the completed church.

A parishioner present at this Mass told the story:

"When the first people started to arrive, about 11:30 o'clock they found a large cross burning right opposite Pulaski Road. That put a damper on things, but as soon as they got inside the church they were happy to see such a beautiful church. The organ started to play and the choir started singing, it seemed as nice as any church in the city. The organ played a Christmas Carol and Harry Engel sang a carol. I can still hear his big voice ringing through the church. George Salch took up the first collection while the priest walked behind him and marked down the names of everyone who put in a dollar bill. A dollar bill then was like a $20 bill today. I was surprised to see so many dollar bills. From that time until the Depression every Sunday they put in a lot of dollar bills. I think the first church that comes to a neighborhood electrifies the people, and that they never get over it, because the founders of the church talk about it until they die. That first year is so branded in their minds...you remember everything as though it happened yesterday..."

Excerpts from "For a Better Life, The History of the Polish Community at Whitehouse," by Stephanie B. Stevens, 1990

Ministers of Hospitality
(Ushers)

Contact:
Al Adolfo , 534-2319
ushers@ollwhs.org


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Always Prepared to Serve

Description: The ministers serve the parish by greeting parishioners as they arrive for mass and by guiding them to their pews. They also accept the offerings of the assembly during the Preparation of the Gifts. Finally the ministers maintain an orderly flow during the distribution of the Eucharist, and give out the bulletins at the conclusion of the liturgy. This ministry is open to all men and women high school age and older.

Time Commitment: Weekly service at a specific mass.

"As an usher, of course I escort people, collect offerings, and generally orchestrate order. But there are so many other things I do...

  • I've spoken Slovak with some of our parishioners to make them feel welcome and comfortable.
  • I've helped to get medical attention to those who are suddenly in need during Mass.
  • I watch out for our disabled and make sure they have a clear, safe path and assistance.
  • I make sure the Eucharistic Ministers get to those who can't walk up to receive the Eucharist.

Sure, we're inconspicuous ... but we are effective!"

Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN)
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Pat Hackman
ihn@ollwhs.org


Ministry Logo

My Brother, My Sister - My Reflection

Description: We provide a home for families in the Interfaith Hospitality Network. These are families, in our own community, who for various reasons have lost their home. They find shelter, food and necessities through a network of churches throughout our area. Volunteers are needed for cooking and laundry. Day and night hosts are needed to stay with our guests at Old Church Hall.

Time Commitment: We accomodate IHN families for two weeks, twice a year. Volunteers can serve for a couple of hours or overnight.

"Jesus had no place to lay His head and depended on the hospitality of others during his ministry. The families in the IHN program have similar needs. Compassion and generosity are so vital to our guests, as they have lost their employment and homes."

~

"One day, I met a young girl of fourteen who had just started attending a local high school. She was shy and reserved, but very well spoken - when she did speak - and very well read, judging by the books on her night table. My first few ice-breakers were questions such as: 'Do you like your new school?', 'What's your favorite subject?', 'Did you make a lot of new friends?'. The last question struck a nerve and brought tears. That was when I realized that this girl was just like I was at the same age. I shared with her my own frustrations at moving to a new school at that age and my struggles to fit in. She really opened up, and shared more. Her love for foreign languages, her favorite books and authors, the places she would like to travel one day. She was a mirror image of the teenage me, in almost all ways, except that she was homeless and living temporarily in a partitioned room in the Parish Hall as part of the IHN program.

We touched each other that day in a way that I will remember for the rest of my life. I gave her a glimmer of hope for a brighter future and she gave me a smile and a bear hug before I went back to my comfortable and abundant life."

Jesse Tree
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Ann DePaolo , 534-2319
jessetree@ollwhs.org


Ministry Logo

Giving to our Brothers and Sisters in Need

Description: Preparation for the Jesse Tree begins in September when tags are cut and strung with yarn for hanging on the tree. Several agencies are contacted to determine individuals who are in need of assistance and requests are organized. In October, gift requests are entered on the tags. During Advent, the Jesse tree is placed in the Narthex and tags are attached. Parishioners, through their generosity, choose a tag, fill the need by purchasing the items, and return it to the parish on the third Sunday of Advent. Gifts are sorted and distributed.

Time Commitment: Once a year during Advent.

The Jesse Tree is a tree decorated with symbols portraying the spiritual heritage of Jesus suggested by Isaiah's prophesy 11:1 "There shall come forth from the stump of Jesse....".

"It is an amazing sight to see so many gifts covering the middle of Community Hall before the sorting begins! Each member of the families receiving food baskets for Christmas also receives a gift. Because of the generosity of the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes we are able to supply gifts to various other places such as: Martin House, a head start group for children; Hagedorn Geriatric Center, a mental health facility; Hunterdon Medical Center; Great Expectations, aid for pregnant women; Outreach Resource Center for Women; Lyons Hospital; Hunterdon Developmental Center; Anderson House; Freedom House; A.R.C. Gray’s Homes; Homebound parishioners; the inmates at various jails so that they have gifts for their children."

"It is as much a blessing to those of us who purchase the gifts as it is to all those who receive our gifts. These small gestures offer so much hope and happiness to our less fortunate brothers and sisters."

Knights of Columbus

Contact:
Chris Virgo
Michael Thalacker
knights@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Swords raised in service to the Lord, hands extended to our Brothers & Sisters in Need

Description: Knights of Columbus Council #6930 at Our Lady of Lourdes is open to men who are practicing Catholics. Most are OLL parishioners and serve the parish through social and fellowship events.

Time Commitment: The Our Lady of Lourdes Council #6930 meets every first and third Wednesday of the month. Members are welcome to attend every meeting or whenever it fits into their schedule.

"Some of the Knights of Columbus activities are well-known and visible to the parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes. Most of you know about our wine tastings, spaghetti dinners, and Valentine's Day dinner dance. You've seen us selling roses to support Right to Life, or recruiting new members.

One of my most cherished and moving memories, however, happened behind the scene in a setting that most parishioners don't see - the Veterans Hospital in Lyons. We visit disabled vets every couple of weeks. Their ailments range from lost limbs or eyesight to psychological issues. One thing many of them sadly have in common is a lack of visitors. Much of our time there is spent talking, listening, or playing board games. I knew the vets appreciated our visits, but I didn't realize just how much until one of them thanked me with tears in his eyes for a game of Trivial Pursuit. Such a simple gesture - but it meant everything to a guy who spends most of his time waiting for someone to show interest in him."

Ministry Logo
Lectors

Contact:
Deacon Chuck Paolino , 534-2319, ext.12
lectors@ollwhs.org


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Proclaiming the Good News of Our Lord

Description: A lector enhances the celebration of the Liturgy through the prayerful and powerful proclamation of the Word of the Lord. The training session reviews the protocol and duties of the lector.

Time Commitment: As scheduled.

"Being a lector didn't always come naturally. It took practice and in time I was able to subdue my self-consciousness and focus on the important message I would deliver from God to His people.

As I prepare my lectoring assignment, the meaning of the Scripture becomes clear and alive to me. It is a gift to be able to proclaim the Word with all its beauty and meaning and to feel the Holy Spirit working through me to inspire others. This is a tremendous privilege, to move others by proclaiming the Word of God!"

Little Praisers

Contact:
Lisa Bellek
littlepraisers@ollwhs.org


Ministry Logo

"Let the children come to me... for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Luke 18:16)

Description: Little Praisers is a pre-school Christian music and movement program for parents, grandparents, and their "little ones" - children newly born to five years old. Learning songs is enhanced with the use of hand motions, simple dances, instruments, parachutes, streamers, and other props.

Time Commitment: The Little Praisers meets every Wednesday in the Old Church Hall at 10:00 a.m. for approximately 45 minutes. Participants are welcome to come each week or whenever it fits in their schedule. Classes start the last week of September and conclude with an end of the year party in May.

"It is amazing to watch the children enjoying themselves and having such fun. The socialization is terrific for all ages, but these little ones are also getting to know and celebrate our God, Jesus and the Church in their own special way. I cannot know for sure how this will help them in the future, but I do know one thing – the seeds we are planting today will bear fruit some day."

Liturgical Environment / Church Decorating

Contact:
Bridget Hackman
liturgicalenviron@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Adorning our Worship Space with God's Beauty

Description: The Liturgical Environment Ministry ensures that plants and flowers adorn the altar, chapel, narthex and shrines throughout the year.

Time Commitment: The schedule is flexible and requires a minimal commitment each week. For the major holidays such as Easter and Christmas, many parishioners help with the decorating and removal of the seasonal decorations.

"The day I responded to Fr. Len that I would get involved with the church decorating, I thought I would be just adding another job to my work schedule. I didn't think that a few bouquets of flowers or greenery would have much of an impact on my life, nor would it matter much to anyone else... but I felt that this was something I was being called to do. Rather quickly, I discovered that my small task did make a difference in my life and surprisingly it also mattered to others within the parish.

From time to time, I receive comments from parishioners expressing their appreciation for the beautiful arrangements displayed throughout the church and the warm, welcoming feeling they bring. Some parishioners especially like Easter and Advent, when the altar is filled with beautiful flowers celebrating the season. When I hear these comments I feel satisfied that in my own small way, I am contributing to making our church a beautiful and welcoming place. My reward is to be able to share the gifts that God has given me, and to show Him my love and appreciation.

This wonderful experience has shown me that even the smallest of things we do can give us the biggest rewards in life, and for that, I am blessed."

Lourdes Players

Contact:
Joe Systo , 534-2319
lourdesplayers@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Sharing Talents and Inspiring Community Spirit

Description: The Lourdes Players produces stage shows for the community at least once a year. It is an opportunity for parishioners to share their talents both on the stage and behind the scenes, as well as to develop a close community spirit.

Time Commitment: Rehearsals start in February for May productions

"As member, president and director for the past twenty years with the Lourdes Players, it has always amazed me how the productions come together. The success of our productions has always been the result of the efforts of many families sharing their talents both on stage and off, as actors, actresses, musicians, technical support with sound and lighting, builders, painters, etc.

The experience has afforded us all the opportunity of closeness and friendships not only within our immediate family but also within our church community. At the completion of each production, we reflect on our God-given talents and know that we are blessed to have the opportunity to share them with our faith community. The special relationships formed often continue well beyond the production into our everyday life."

Pre-Cana
(Marriage Preparation Ministry)

Contact:
Anthony/Barbara Vergona
precana@ollwhs.org


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Until Death Do Us Part

Description: Married couples of our parish join Father Len to organize and implement marriage preparation activities for couples anticipating matrimony in the Catholic Church. We share personal experiences and facilitate small group discussions on topics such as early adjustments, having a family, life changes, and financial challenges. Our one-day format includes fun activities, lunch and a closing ceremony.

Time Commitment: Annually, one day session in March

"Our program is filled with young couples in love so tangible that excitement fills the room. That excitement reminds us of the commitment we made before God so many years ago. We know that the divorce rate is high and feel that if we can help even one couple to stay married 'until death do them part', our personal mission is fulfilled.

Several years ago, we received a thank you note from a young woman who said that she and her fiancé had called off their wedding, as they realized after completing our program that they were really not compatible. This truly touched us, as we believe that the Marriage Preparation program enables couples to have deeper discussions and face topics that they may otherwise have avoided prior to their wedding, such as having children or dealing with the death of a parent.

In addition, we have established strong friendships with the other married couples in this ministry. We support each other in difficult times. We continue to feel blessed to be part of this ministry and receive so much fulfillment from our involvement."

~

"The openness shown by Engaged Encounter team couples as they shared their experiences of married life inspired my husband and me to join the Pre-Cana team at OLL after completing our session. One of the best aspects of this ministry is witnessing the love of the engaged couples. It gives the team couples a real sense of renewal in our own marriages. Engagement is such an exciting time filled with hope and planning for the future.

On one occasion an engaged woman at our table took the time to send an email to thank us for our honesty about the ups and downs of marriage. She and her fiancé identified with our story. Her family was traditional, with a strong foundation of faith, whereas her fiancée came from a divorced family where communication wasn’t as open. She noted that her fiancée particularly related to my husband and felt comfortable sharing his family experience with someone who could empathize. What really touched my heart was that their positive experience encouraged them to consider joining the Marriage Preparation program in their own parish. The vocation of this ministry came full circle: our involvement began with our own positive encounter as an engaged couple, and in turn, we inspired a young couple to consider joining the ministry.

We continue to receive as much as we give through our involvement with Pre-Cana."

Martin House
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Norman Diegnan
martinhouse@ollwhs.org


Ministry Logo

Earning God's Pay

Description: Martin House was started over forty years ago by Fr. Brian McCormick of the Diocese of Trenton. The original vision was to educate the inner city poor. However, it shortly became evident that without a stable home life, education was secondary. In a short time, the goal of Martin House was transformed to that of an organization that helps people stay in their homes by providing financial help, home repairs and affordable housing. Over the years, Fr. Brian has built transitional housing and started Boy and Girl Scout troops, an after school learning center, a day care center, a sports complex, and basketball leagues.

Time Commitment: One Saturday each month (usually on the third Saturday), volunteers from Our Lady of Lourdes travel to Trenton, where they provide help to Fr. Brian McCormick refurbishing old homes in the inner city or building new homes for the poor. Approximately 6-8 hours.

"Why do I go? It is easy for me to say I have the skills needed, or that Jesus wants me to use my skills to help others. Both would be correct but there is something more. My heart changed after I worked with families that were given modernized housing. Their appreciation and dignity energized me.

After doing this work for several years, I explained to Fr. Brian that I felt that I was stealing from the poor because I was more energized when I left at the end of the day. Fr. Brian explained this feeling was God's "pay" to me. When I think about God paying me I am awestruck."

Midnight Run
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Mary Thalacker
midnightrun@ollwhs.org


Ministry Logo

An Act of Justice... An Act of Sharing

Description: Midnight Run is a ministry formed by a consortium of churches, synagogues, schools and civic groups in the tri-state area that collects and distributes the essentials of everyday living to the homeless poor of New York City. The method of distribution takes the form of a caravan of vans that travels to specific stops located throughout the city late at night, as well as during some weekend morning hours. The volunteers making the "run" distribute soup, sandwiches, hot coffee and toiletry kits, as well as basic clothing items. Much preparation is needed before each "run" can take place. While our parish volunteers do not conduct any of the actual "runs", they support Midnight Run by collecting warm coats and scarves, men's sneakers, socks and travel sized toiletries and preparing the toiletry kits for use in shelter showers. We then transport all collected items to the New York area parishes that organize the Midnight "Run" caravans.

Time Commitment: Our Lady of Lourdes volunteers prepare toiletry kits for one or two Midnight Runs each year, usually in early autumn. Volunteers are needed to help sort supplies and prepare toiletry kits in advance. This typically takes about two hours.

"I was introduced to Midnight Run about nine years ago when a friend from Westchester County invited me to accompany members of her parish on a Midnight Run. It was an experience that reminded me that to be Catholic is to live my faith. To do what Jesus asks, to love one another and to see Him in everyone we meet. As we traveled through the city that night, I was struck by the realization that the people I met were just like me. With a job loss, a catastrophic illness or poor financial planning, any of us could be in the same situation. My involvement in this ministry "keeps me honest', it reminds me I am my brother's keeper."

Music Ministry

Contact:
Jim Cole , 534-2319,ext.19
music@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Praising God in Music and Song. "To sing is to pray twice." (attributed to St. Augustine)

Description: Music Ministry enhances the liturgy by supporting the assembly in sung prayer and by bringing beauty to the liturgy through choral and instrumental music. Choirs include the Adult Choir, Youth Choir, Children's Choir, Family Handbell Choir and Advanced Handbell Choir. Cantors lead the assembly and proclaim the psalm.

Time Commitment: The Adult Choir rehearses two hours a week and sings on Sundays and Holy Days. Other choirs rehearse one hour a week and sing, or ring, approximately twice a month. Instrumentalists rehearse and play on an as-needed basis.

"One day, back in college, I met with one of my classmates in the cafeteria. We got to talking about music and the student groups with which we were singing. I mentioned the choir somewhat off-handed because I knew she wasn't Catholic, and I said she could join us if she wanted. To my surprise, she showed up at our next rehearsal, and continued to be part of our group for many years, eventually converting to Catholicism, marrying a member of the brass section, and giving birth to our godson!"

~

"What I like most about being a choir member at Our Lady of Lourdes is enhancing the word of God with song and watching the reaction of the congregation when we sing a song that moves them."

~

"Joining the choir has been one of the greatest joys in my life. To sing out what is in your heart, to praise God and thank him for all of his gifts, to petition for his forgiveness and mercy or for comfort in times of trouble – are some of the most liberating and uplifting experiences one can have."

~

"I feel closer to God when I express myself through music. I share what's in my heart, so it can be rather therapeutic as well. Working together in a group to create a 'collective voice' that can affect the experience of others during mass is a wonderful feeling, too."

Prayer Chain

Contact:
Barbara Kearns
prayerchain@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Linked Together Through Prayer

Description: The Prayer Chain enables parishioners to make a difference in the lives of others by making a small sacrifice of time in prayer to our Lord. When people need prayer for themselves or for a relative or friend they call the parish office. A call is then made to two individuals who sctivate the Prayer Chain which is made up of 16 captains who each call or email 4 people.

Time Commitment: Usually once a week at the mutual consent of the visitor and the homebound.

"We pray for each request or intention for one month. Miracles have happened through the Prayer Chain. There have been many physical healings and there is a great peace in knowing that so many people are praying. God answers prayer!"

"When I was diagnosed with skin cancer, I was aware that someone had placed my name on the Prayer Chain. Though I had faith that the Lord would pull me through (and He has!), I also felt the power of my friends and fellow parishioners praying for me. What a wonderful, peaceful feeling that was. Not only did the prayers work, it helped me to realize just how connected we all are in the eyes of God. I have since invoked the Prayer Chain for loved ones in need."

Prayer Shawl Ministry

Contact:
Joline Frank , 534-2319, ext. 12
prayershawl@ollwhs.org


Ministry Logo

Prayer, Consolation and Comfort for those in Need

Description: Needle workers, knitters and crocheters come together to create shawls for those in need of our prayers and comfort. We work at home and/or in a group setting. Please consider sharing your talent with those in need. All are welcome, from teens to seniors.

Time Commitment: Our daytime group meets every other Monday, from 1:00-3:00 pm. Our evening group meets the second Monday of the month, from 7:00-8:30 pm. Attendance is optional, as you may choose to work at home.

"Thank you for your kindness and prayer shawl ministry. I received the shawl of sheltering prayer and it has brought me comfort and hope. I cried when I received the shawl, and I can feel the love and prayers that went into making it. It is such a comfort knowing so many people care for others and show it through selfless acts of kindness such as knitting these shawls."

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.)
Christian Initiation of Children (C.I.C.)

Contact:
Jim and Joan Garboski
Mike Lavallato
rcia@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Following the Journey in Response to God's Call

Description: R.C.I.A./C.I.C. is an acronym for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults/Christian Initiation of Children. This is a process of faith development and catechetical instruction which culminates in full membership in the Christian Roman Catholic community - the reception of the "sacraments of initiation": Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

Time Commitment: Sessions are held on Sunday mornings

"My life has been touched in many ways by our ministries and our parish family since I have been a member of Our Lady of Lourdes, but my most memorable experience was as an RCIA team member.

I sponsored two people during my membership with RCIA: a young woman who wanted to convert for her future husband, and a man who was married to a very faith-filled woman. Both of these individuals were filled with longing and found what they needed through the faith of their loved ones. My RCIA team members were also rich in faith and happy to share their time and energy. Once a month, the RCIA team would attend Mass and meet with candidates for instruction. I walked away each Sunday morning with a new understanding or a profound learning that brought my faith to life. I felt so invigorated that I would literally float into work on Monday morning ready to face the week with Christ in my heart.

I joined the Ministry because I wanted to give to others. What I received in return was an unexpected blessing: this experience literally saved my Spiritual life at a time when my soul was in great need."

Respect Life Committee
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Bob Keeling
respectlife@ollwhs.org


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Upholding the Sanctity of Life in all of its Seasons

Description: The Respect Life Committee drives several activities, including annual donation and gift drives for local pregnancy aid centers, annual Right to Life trip to Washington on January 22, annual Life Chain in Flemington 1st Sunday in October, and participation in NJ Right to Life meetings.

Time Commitment: Monthly meetings with Social Concerns committee, and as needed for seasonal activities.

"Our Lady of Lourdes is a parish community committed to life in all its stages. As such, we promote and encourage events sponsored by the Diocesan Office for Life and participate in activities which uphold the life of the unborn, the sick, the elderly, those who are imprisoned and people in all circumstances.

I have had the privilege over the years of witnessing courage and conviction, often in intimidating circumstances. A story comes to mind from a rally I attended not too long ago. The speaker was a woman of conservative values addressing a large crowd in an area known for its liberalism. Earlier that year, the woman had given birth to a child with Down Syndrome. As she finished her speech and opened the floor to questions, someone asked her why she had chosen to give birth to such a child. Her answer was unwavering but without a hint of harshness: 'It's not a choice… It's a life.' I waited for the heckling to begin. Instead, I heard a few clapping hands… and the sound grew to applause.

Sometimes we feel that ours is a solitary voice in an unfriendly wilderness. But with a bit of courage, we may have a more profound impact than we will ever know."

Rosary Altar Society

Contact:
Anne Parsons
rosaryaltar@ollwhs.org


Ministry Logo

Championing the Healing Power of Our Lady's Rosary

Description: The Rosary-Altar Society is devoted to Our Lady's rosary and care for the altar linens and good order of the sanctuary of the church building.

Time Commitment: They meet the First Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. for prayer followed by a meeting.

"I joined the Our Lady of Lourdes Rosary Altar Society in 2002 because I always wanted to learn how to pray the Rosary. Growing up, we had all kinds of old rosaries lying around in drawers and jewelry boxes that fascinated me. Yet no one ever taught me how to say the Rosary. Although, one day I do recall my mother telling me it was sacrilegious to wear rosary beads around one's neck as jewelry! Years later, I somehow knew you said a bunch of Hail Marys and some Our Fathers, but I was never certain how to start the Rosary or how to end it - or what all the "Mysteries" were that one focused on in between. So, when Ruth Stieh asked me to join the Rosary Altar group at our parish, I did.

Little did I know that less than one year later, I would be diagnosed with Cancer - and that the ROSARY is what would get me through the year-long ordeal. I prayed the Rosary through every lab test, every surgery, and every chemo and radiation treatment. In addition to saying the Rosary, I knew there were a whole bunch of Rosarians praying for me. My family and many of my husband's Knights of Columbus friends and others from our church were also praying for me for a long time. And because of their prayers I felt such peace and comfort - and, most of all, HOPE.

I still say the Rosary every day while driving to work and especially while sitting in the routine traffic delays on Route 78. Actually, if it weren't for the traffic, I wouldn't have enough time to complete the entire Rosary. So I am actually thankful for a little bit of traffic. Praying the Rosary brings such calm and peace, and is a great way to start each day."

Shepherd's Meal

Contact:
Patty & Bruce Sanderson
Charlie & Kim Coombs
shepherdsmeal@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you?

Description: On the last Friday of each month, the Shepherd's Meal is prepared and served to low-income families in our community. A group of volunteers from local churches helps to prepare food, set table, welcome guests and clean up after the meal. Currently, the monthly Shepherd’s Meal is hosted at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Time Commitment: A few hours once per month.

"Cooking is one of my favorite stress-relief activities. So, I thought, 'Why not enjoy some time preparing a meal to drop off for those in need? It wouldn't take much time, and I could just drop it off at the church and feel good about having contributed.'

When I arrived with my meal, I was amazed at the bustle of activity. You would think a hungry army was going to show up. One of the set-up volunteers asked me to find serving utensils for my dish and place it on the buffet table. In the few minutes it took to do this, the guests began to arrive, and before long the room was filled to capacity. What a diverse group: parents with children of all ages together with many elderly and disabled folks. How could there be so many hungry people in our well-to-do community?

The line formed quickly, and still at the buffet table with my covered dish, I realized it was time to start serving so I stayed to help. When most were seated, someone asked me to help pour and distribute drinks. As I brought filled cups to the tables, one of the elderly men said to me: 'The food here is great, but the best part is seeing a smiling face!' I learned so much about him that night, how he had struggled to pay medical bills for his ailing wife before she passed away, leaving him alone with no other relatives to support him emotionally or financially, and how he had lost his home and possessions. He was starved for human companionship, and the few minutes I spent talking with him meant as much as the hot meal... perhaps more.

On my way home that night, I cried. Tears of pity fell for the suffering and loneliness I had seen. Tears of humility fell at the realization that I have so much, while others have so little. And tears of gratitude fell as I thanked God for slowing me down enough to receive the reward He had in store for me that night."

Ministry to the Sick and Homebound

Contact:
Joline Frank , 534-2319 ext. 12
ministrytosick@ollwhs.org

Ministry Logo

Bringing the Presence of God to the Confined

Description: Ministers strive to bring the compassionate presence of the healing Christ to the sick and the homebound. Sharing time and prayer with each person is important for the minister as well as the one being served. The Eucharist is brought to the homebound and to those in nursing homes and hospitals on a regular basis.

Time Commitment: Usually once a week at the mutual consent of the visitor and the homebound.

"I go to the hospital with a partner to bring communion to the sick. I have been doing this for many years. There are times that I push myself to go, but visiting with the patients is so rewarding. The patients thank us. Some cry because they are so grateful. Sometimes they can’t receive the Eucharist, but they are well enough to pray, and we pray the Our Father together. Tears roll down their faces. It is so beautiful and rewarding.

~

When I bring the Eucharist to a homebound parishioner, it is as much a blessing to me as it is to the person I am visiting. The greeting at the door, the grace-filled prayers, the few minutes of chatter about their day, and the heartfelt 'thank you' as I leave, show me how fortunate I am to have this privilege of sharing my faith and Jesus' love with others. My own Eucharistic celebration is enriched every time I visit one of these special people."

~

My heart is constantly touched when I bring the Eucharist to the hospital on Wednesdays. I cannot explain the joy and love in this ministry. I am so humbled by the patients and the staff. I am touched to see how hungry people are for the living God. My relationship [with God] keeps getting stronger and stronger. As far as different, the same God only I become different, more loving and compassionate.

Special Needs Interfaith
Scripture Study Ministry

Contact:
Carolyn Clare
specialneeds@ollwhs.org


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Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there shall I be in their midst

Description: Special Needs Scripture Study is an interfaith catechesis opportunity for the disabled youth of our community.

Time Commitment: Once a month year-round.

"Twenty years ago, a group of local parents spearheaded a religious program for their Special Education of young adults. The names and faces change over the years, but the mission remains the same: religious instruction and faith sharing to accommodate people with varied abilities.

Some participants live at home in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties, while others live in supported apartments and group homes. They come with a range of abilities and bring optimism, enthusiasm, and an eagerness to learn.

In a recent class, I asked, "What do you like best about our group?" One young man said, "I enjoy learning more about my religion." Another said, "I like to watch the videos." A third responded, "I like the snacks, homemade cookies and brownies." Each answer was honest, genuine, and to the point. One thing you can always count on is a candid response.

In addition to our monthly meetings, our members wanted to do community service. They decided to help the Starfish program in their own way. In November, they stapled an interfaith 'Grace Before Meals' to the bags used for food distribution. In December, they attached the Christmas gospel. For some, this means a hand-over-hand process to staple 10 or 20 bags. Few have the physical strength or coordination to do this independently, but all wish to do their part. They see that through the combined efforts of many, nourishment of the body and the spirit is brought to those in need.

Their needs are the same as yours and mine: to be recognized and respected for their gifts; to be included without criticism; and to work, please others and receive respect for a job done to the best of their ability. In reflecting on this, I am reminded of the words from the hymn by Marty Haugen, which we sing here at Our Lady of Lourdes: 'Let us build a house where all are named, their songs and visions heard and loved and treasured... let this house proclaim from floor to rafter: All are welcome in this place'. "

Spiritual Direction / Companion

Contact:
Joline Frank , 534-2319 Ext 12
spiritualdirection@ollwhs.org


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Fostering awareness of God's presence and action in everyday life

Description: An opportunity for an individual to become more deeply aware of the presence and action of God in life. In a private and confidential manner, the Spiritual Director / Companion helps the individual discern how to respond to God in the circumstance of his or her own life. It is a chance to grow in personal prayer and deepen one's relationship with God.

Time Commitment: Appointments, times, and frequency are arranged between self and director / companion.

"One of the greatest gifts I've ever received was being introduced to Spiritual Direction.

This ministry has helped me to grow deeply in my love and appreciation of our faith, in ways which I could not have accomplished alone. Most importantly, it has encouraged me to be open to seeing the Holy Spirit at work in both myself and others, and this increasing awareness of God's love, presence and action in our lives, has been nothing short of life changing."

Starfish Food Pantry
(Social Concerns Ministry)

Contact:
Jim and Nancy O'Malley
starfish@ollwhs.org

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Whatever you do for one of these least brothers of mine, you do for me.

Description: Our Lady Lourdes, as part of Starfish (an interdenominational / community program that assists the needy in various ways), provides food for individuals and families who are experiencing financial difficulties. Food is collected 12 times per year and stored in a pantry from which it is distributed to the needy. Anyone who is in need or knows someone in need may call the parish office.

Time Commitment: 12 times a year, once per month, as needed.

"He entered the office and said, 'I need to see a priest. I am at the end of my rope and don't know where to turn.' This was my second day on the job and I thought to myself, 'I didn’t think this really happened!' Of course I welcomed him to sit down and I went to get Father. With shoulders slumped he began telling us his story...

He had lost his job and his home. The only thing he had left was a motorcycle. He stayed the night before in a homeless shelter and did not know where he would spend this night or what he would eat since he only had $5 in his pocket. Like a fine tuned machine, the parish staff went to work. Social services were called. Sister went to the Starfish food pantry and brought him food for the next couple of days along with the basic essentials such as shampoo, toothpaste, and toothbrush -- essentials we so often take for granted. He was told to come back on Friday for a hot meal at the Shepherd's Meal. When it was time for him to be on his way he had a place to stay and food to eat. God's work was done."

Stewardship Committee

Contact:
Mike Lavallato
Carolyn Moore
stewardship@ollwhs.org


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Moving Hearts...Telling Our Stories

Description: Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Stewardship Committee assists the pastor by working to provide the people of our parish with a moving and inspiring experience of our parish ministries and, in turn, to foster the commitment and deepen the faith of every member of our parish family.

This group serves as a facilitator and coordinator of parish-wide efforts involving most or all parish ministries. The Stewardship Committee has coordinated past efforts such as: publishing this directory of parish ministries, the ministry sign-up weekend, ministry of the month spotlight, focus group workshops involving members of various ministries and parishioner witness talks after Mass.

Time Commitment: The committee meets approximately once per month for planning and preparation in accordance with scheduled events and activities. Twice a year, the Stewardship Committee helps to prepare a meeting of Ministry Leaders where the attendees are updated on activities and goals to build stewardship in our parish.

"As a parishioner for more than ten years, I was well aware that 'stewardship' meant more than the weekly collection or capital campaign to raise money. Fr. Gall had introduced me to the concept of "time, talent and treasure" as the model for stewardship in our parish. I understood that I could give back in many different ways. I participated in the Family Ministry program and served dutifully as a lector and in other parish ministries and activities…or so I thought. It wasn’t until I became involved on the Stewardship Committee that I realized my focus was in the wrong place. Through my involvement in this ministry, I began to recognize how everything I have – even the few hours of available time in my schedule – is a precious gift from God. And I have the responsibility to share those gifts freely and faithfully with others.

Through the efforts of the Stewardship Committee, my perspective of the parish has been broadened tremendously. Being a parishioner at OLL has become much more than coming to Mass for one hour on Sunday. My family and I are part of something much bigger – truly an extended family. My role in that larger family has taken on many facets through the Stewardship Committee. We are helping to shape and build something for God and about God through every member of the parish. It has been exciting and mind-boggling at times! Now I approach this work not as a job or a duty, but as part of what God calls me to do – to share some of the gifts He has given me – with no questions asked.

Over the past several years, I have learned about so many wonderful activities and efforts undertaken by fellow parishioners. More importantly, I have made many new friends and acquaintances whose work in the Church has inspired me and helped to deepen my own faith."

Walk for Children in Need of Jesus

Contact:
Barbara Kearns
walkforchildren@ollwhs.org


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Walking a mile in another's shoes ...

Description: This annual event is sponsored by the Holy Childhood Association to raise money for the Missions, especially for children. The walk takes place in Metuchen, NJ.

Time Commitment: One day a year in October on Mission Sunday

"Since 1916, children have been helping children in underdeveloped countries by raising money for the Holy Childhood Association. This walk is a good opportunity for children to continue the tradition of helping other children. Families are especially urged to sign up and get relatives and friends to sponsor them. Walkers are encouraged to choose a Mission area of the world and to wear the color representing that particular area; for example, red represents the Americas; Africa-green; Oceania-blue; Europe-white and Asia is yellow. We walk a mile throughout the neighborhood surrounding the Cathedral. We return to the Cathedral and the Bishop celebrates noon Mass which is followed by a simple Mission luncheon. All who participate find it most rewarding."

Welcoming Ministry

Contact:
Cathy Carey
welcomers@ollwhs.org


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All Are Welcome in this Place

Description: Our Lady of Lourdes' Welcoming Committee aids the parish in trying to make new parishioners feel at home. They participate in the Evenings of Welcome for new parishioners and welcome newcomers on Fellowship Sunday.

Time Commitment: Approximately one meeting per month.

"Every other month or so, our parish has an Evening of Welcome, inviting those families who are joining Our Lady of Lourdes. It is our custom to put families with similarities together at the same table hosted by a parishioner to answer their questions and help them bond to our parish family. The similarities can include ages of children, need for religious education, empty nesters, young adults planning to marry, and "pre-baptism" families. The "pre-bap" group is special, as all the families are new to the area. It is a joy to watch these families interact with each other and compare experiences.

A few years ago, we had a young couple at a "pre-bap" table. They were excited to become parents and raise their child in our church community, and they shared this excitement with the other families at their table. Before the evening ended, they had formed a bond with the "Welcomer" who hosted their table, and they left knowing that they had a resource to count on if they needed help or guidance.

Shortly after this, life took an unexpected turn for this young couple. Their child was born, but did not survive. Without hesitation, they reached out to the "Welcomer" who had hosted their table. The "Welcomer" got personally involved to help them to organize their baby's funeral and to introduce them to all of the resources we have at Our Lady of Lourdes for support and grief counseling.

Two years later, during a walk down a country road with my own child, I saw a young woman pushing her newborn child in a stroller. As we met, I was overjoyed to recognize the young women whose sadness was once beyond anything I could ever imagine. It was such an emotional moment for me as the young woman, now so happy, thanked me for being part of the group that had helped her through her tragedy, a sad journey that she had traveled before coming to such a joyful time in her life ...

I walked away with a full heart ... and this is a poignant reason that I give my time to be part of a community that, in turn, gives so much to others ... perhaps more than we will ever know."

Youth Ministry

Contact:
Megan Schuster , 534-2319 ext.16
Coordinator of the Youth Ministry Program
youth@ollwhs.org

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The Future of our Church

Description: The youth ministry provides an array of events for our teens and preteens, grades 6 through 12. Group activities are planned with input from the youth of our church. The Junior Youth Group includes grades 6 – 8 and the Senior Youth Group includes grades 9 –12. Some activities include all age groups.

There are three parts to the youth group ministry:

1. Social - Youth come together with their friends to do activities that they enjoy. Some past events include movie nights, bowling, trips to Great Adventure and Dorney Park, hanging out and playing games. Our parish facilities include a youth room with a television, pool table, ping pong table and comfortable furniture where our group hangs out. Some of our youth members have redecorated the youth room with beautiful hand painted murals and artistic works.

2. Service - The youth group members come together and provide services to the parish, the community, the country and the world. In the past the youth group has been involved in many service projects including a shoe drive, running activities at the Vacation Bible School, cooking and serving at the Shepherd's Meals, assisting with the Starfish Food Pantry needs, baking for the Consolation Ministry, and setting up facilities for the Interfaith Hospitality Network to name a few.

3. Spiritual - The group meets to pray, reflect and discuss the relevance of church in the real world. Members participate in the monthly Youth Masses together. Some members have attended the Diocese Youth Day and the Teen Outreach Program.

Time Commitment: Varies with event commitments, Monthly calendar distributed to group.

"In the summer of 2007 my sister and I asked if we could design and paint a mural in the youth room. We felt that some bright colors would liven up the basement area and could tie in religious and lay themes. What started out as a small, single-mural project soon turned into a huge, multi-mural project that not only involved Mrs. DeSeta, my sister and me but other members of our youth group.

For hours each week, we met in the basement, sang to music, ate pizza and painted murals. We created not only the Ten Commandments, crosses, sheep, and the virtues but also basketballs, beaches, rabbits and rainbows. While we were rejuvenating the room, Mrs. DeSeta washed all the walls and vacuumed. This group effort helped everyone to form bonds and through this experience I met more members of our youth group. I helped transform a gray, dull basement into a colorful, busy communal meeting place. Now when the youth group meets, we are able to take pride in our youth room, knowing we helped convert it into a warm, inviting place to gather."