Vision:

To embrace the local community in such a manner that the needs of the people that are not fulfilled by existing agencies may in some way be addressed by St. Catherine’s parish. It is our mission and vision to encourage, support, and train parish volunteers to meet these challenges by focusing on spiritual growth and the development of attitudes that complement the need of the community in such a way that benefits the common good.

Please contact Mary Hunt, Steward of Charity & Justice, at 269-978-2338 for more information.

Goals:

  1. Work to develop unity among the various Agape groups to see that the person that we serve is Christ in all of our ministries.
  2. Partner with the other parish Stewards to coordinate groups that may have cross-over needs or events that affect more than one mission area.
  3. Meet on a quarterly basis with the Agape members to discuss upcoming events and financial needs.
  4. Support the continual needs of our sister parish, El Sitio, and Casa Hogar and Amparo.
  5. Develop a quarterly news letter to send to all of our Casa and El Sitio sponsors as well as update news to all Agape members.
  6. Look in to the possibility of developing a Christian Service orientation training school for parishioners that may want to volunteer for outreach opportunities but have never done so in the past.

Casa

Catherine’s parish supports two orphanages in Mexico Casa Amparo in Reynosa, Mexico and Casa Hogar in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Casa Amparo is run by the sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge and Casa Hogar is run by the Sisters of Mercy.

Each year St. Catherine’s collects items for back to school supplies and at Christmas with various medicines and personal care items. Both have a sponsorship program at a cost of $300 a year to sponsor a child and remember them on their birthday and Christmas.

Several delegations have traveled to Mexico to open their hearts and embrace  those girls who are without mothers and fathers.  For more information on how you can help contact Mary Hunt at 269-978-2338.

Equal Exchange   

In an effort to promote Fair Trade, a variety of coffees, teas, and chocolates are for sale after Mass on Saturday and Sunday. Schedules are posted in the bulletin. Also, there is an annual Marketplace in November each year. Proceeds go to the individual organizations that participate.

JustFaith  

The JustFaith program is a spiritual journey for small groups that invites people to engage the world’s needs with compassion. Throughout the journey, JustFaith participants discover a deeper connection to their faith, parish, and community. They realize a renewed energy for their current work as volunteers or social ministers, and a new perspective on themselves and the world’s needs — and how the two relate. For more information contact Norm Young at ndyoung@charter.net.

The Kairos Dwelling 

Located on Gull Road is a home for the terminally ill. Several members of St.Catherine’s volunteer on a regular basis. Parishioner Jim Lewis is on the board of directors and his wife Sue is a volunteer. The home is supported by donations, memorials and grants. Several supplies are needed for everyday use such as:

Pillows, Stamps, Napkins, Kleenex, Paper Towels, Toilet Paper, Baggies (all sizes), Liquid Laundry Soap, 2 Liter Bottles of Pop, Liquid Dishwashing Soap, Tall Kitchen Garbage Bags, Gift Certificates to Meijer.

If you are interested in donating items for Kairos Dwelling, please drop off donations at the Agape table located in Marian Hall or call Mary Hunt at 269-978-2338. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sue Shaw at 269-381-3688 or send an e-mail to kairosdwelling@aol.com.

Meals on Wheels

Several people of St. Catherine’s parish volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program. Volunteers are needed to deliver once every six weeks for about a two-hour commitment. Meals are delivered in the Portage city and lake areas during the lunch hour. Usually working in pairs as one would drive while the other hops. If you are interested in joining this rewarding ministry contact Maribeth Stanley for training at 269-375-4972 or e-mail mbstan@att.net.

Migrant Ministry   

In 1999, St. Catherine’s Migrant Ministry program was established. Members of the parish gather in groups to visit the migrant camps in Southwest Michigan to provide migrant families with support in both a spiritual way as well as providing necessities, such as blankets and food, first aid kits and welcome kits.

Volunteers provide activities for the children such as storytelling, arts and crafts, games and a light snack. This allows the parents a short break from their hectic and hard-working day. It is not necessary to know Spanish but helpful. Typically, we carpool from St. Catherine’s parking lot at 5:30 pm and return around 10:00 pm.

Recipes for Change – African Recipes from 2014 event

St. Vincent De Paul Society

Any adult not only interested in helping the poor but also in developing their spirituality in seeing Christ in those we serve.  We meet the second Tuesday of each month at 6:00 pm in the Siena Conference Room at St. Catherine’s Church.  Our society has been in existence in the parish for over 33 years. In the past four years our membership has grown to 20 people. Our outreach interviews families every weekend who may have electrical shut-offs, evictions and relocations. In addition, we offer emergency groceries to clients from our small food pantry. We work in conjunction with other St. Vincent Societies in the area, as well as local agencies to assist families in Kalamazoo County. In some cases we partner with St Catherine’s to help our own parishioners.

We have three large service projects during the year:

1. Every two weeks we deliver personal care items donated by our parishioners to local agencies for distribution. These agencies include Ministry with Community, Open Door Next Door, The Ark, YWCA Women’s Domestic Assault Program and the Gospel Mission.

2. Lenten-BRIDGE THE GAP is a project that collects items that are not covered by the state assistance program. Parishioners are asked to drop off paper products, personal care items such as shampoo, deodorant or soap, feminine hygiene products, dental care items, and laundry soaps.

3. Our biggest project is our Thanksgiving basket distribution. The parishioners of St Catherine’s donate food and money to purchase and fill 100 baskets for Thanksgiving dinner for families in need. Names are received from those who sign up through the Portage Outreach Center, South County Services and families that are recommended to us in our own parish. Together with our St Vincent members, our parish families sort, pack and deliver the baskets of food.

 El Sitio, El Salvador, Our Sister Parish

If you would like to learn more about our brothers and sisters in El Sitio, El Salvador and/or how you can get more involved, check out this great new website:

www.elsitioes.org

La Directiva: This is a committee made up of St. Catherine’s parishioners that meets quarterly to organize projects and better the future of El Sitio. We would love fresh perspectives and interest! If you are interested in becoming a part of the Directiva, or would like more information, contact Bryan Hill at bryan_in_mex@yahoo.com.

Operation Education: All of the approximately 120 students attending kindergarten through high school in El Sitio depend on us, their Sister Parish, to sponsor his or her education. Our annual fund drive, Operation Education, makes education a reality for these children and teens. (NEED UPDATE HERE>) If you would like to help for the 2012 school year (they are on calendar years, so their school year begins in January), watch for Operation Education information in the narthex and bulletin in May 2011.

Hand-in-Hand: This is a wonderful way to form a bond with a family in our sister parish! Each time a delegation from St. Catherine’s is about to visit El Sitio, you will receive a reminder to write a letter to your specific, paired family. In it, you can tell about your own family and provide pictures. Don’t worry; letters can be translated if you don’t speak Spanish. By writing just twice a year, you can make a big difference in helping to maintain the relationship of family that we’ve built with the people of El Sitio. Since delegations only get to visit twice per year, these letters mean so much to our brothers and sisters so far away.  If you or your family is interested, please contact Mary Hunt, mhunt@stcatherinesiena.org. Medicines: All luggage checked by each delegation that visits El Sitio is to provide human aide, much in the form of over-the-counter medicines. If you have access to such items as pain relievers, allergy and cold medicines, fiber laxatives, etc. drop them off anytime in the church office.

Summer Delegation: This life-changing experience is open to interested adults ages 19 and up. Costs will be airfare plus food and lodging for a week. We spend most of the time living with families in El Sitio, praying and reflecting and building community, followed by a short stay at the nearby Peace Center in Suchitoto, with visits to important and holy places in the capital of San Salvador. The trip is usually during the month of June. If you are interested and would like an application or more information, contact Bryan Hill at 269-998-9954 or hill.bryand@gmail.com.

Fall Delegation: A delegation from St. Catherine’s will depart early each November for one week to visit with our brothers and sisters in El Sitio. This is open to adults of all ages. Costs will be airfare plus food and lodging for a week.