December 15, 2019: The 3rd Sunday of Advent - Pastoral Associate’s Corner
I love telling people outside of St. Dominic’s about my work with the Lima Center and Community Outreach. As I share with them about our ministry to the homeless and those in need, something wonderful happens. Hearing about your generosity — because without the parishioners of St. Dominic’s, none of this would be possible — people are always inspired to ask: “What can I do to help?”
I tell them that there are THREE big ways: praying, serving as volunteers, and making financial contributions. And within those ways, there are numerous options depending on one’s time and resources.
First off, there’s PRAYER, which is something everyone can do. Taking a few minutes each day to offer prayers for those who are on the streets and those who are struggling to make ends meet might not seem like a lot, but it makes a huge difference, primarily in us. Through our prayer, God makes us more aware of the conditions of those around us. The Lord opens our eyes to the plight of our neighbors who don’t have shelter, who don’t have enough to eat, and who are suffering, especially during this time of year.
So if you can do only one thing this year for those in need, I ask you to pray. Pray that our society will be more conscientious of the poor and the homeless. Pray that our civic leaders will enact laws which safeguard the elderly living on a fixed-income. Pray that our community will witness to our faith by respecting the dignity of all people, especially those on the margins.
Next up, one should consider SERVING as a volunteer. Right now we are in need of overnight chaperones for our emergency winter shelter, which we open whenever it’s raining or below 50. Volunteering just one night a month means some of our homeless neighbors will find a little bit of comfort instead of sleeping on the street.
We’d also love to have more cooks at the Lima Center for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This can be a meal that you prepare with your family at home, and then drop off for us to reheat, or you can cook in the parish hall kitchen. Most people are working during the day when we serve lunch to our homeless guests, but we are willing to accommodate busy schedules for whoever is willing to help. We even have a schedule of open dates online.
Or you might think about being a Lima Center greeter. These amazing volunteers help sort through all the clothing and toiletries we receive. They check-in our Lima Center guests, help with the laundry, serve food, wash dishes, and complete a number of other tasks that make day-to-day operations possible. Some volunteer every week, but even if you can only serve for a few hours every month, we'll find something for you to do.
Another way to serve our community is by becoming a member of our Outreach Leadership Commission. We meet in the evening on the first Thursday of every month to discuss our ministry programs and our mission. One of the initiatives that was developed by this group is our Companions for Healthcare ministry, which helps our neighbors get to doctors appointments when they can’t drive. So if you have ideas about how to help our community members who are in need, consider joining us.
Finally, we are always in need of FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS to keep our programs going. In the next few weeks, you’ll receive our annual letter asking you to think about making a gift to our ministry. Please read it and take time to prayer about what you might be able to give.
We also have wishlists on DollarDays and Amazon for the many items we give out: socks, underwear, toiletries and so on. Look inside the bulletin for these links, or on the parish website. You'll see exactly what your money is going towards.
And, of course, at this time of year, we have our Christmas Angel Giving Tree; one near the piano in the church, and one in the Siena Room. Take an angel and be an angel when you bring in a gift card to Ross, Target, Walgreens, Safeway or a fast food restaurant. We’ll use these cards to make Christmas last all year long for families and neighbors in need.
I can only begin to express how grateful I am for all of the parishioners at St. Dominic’s who support the work we do. Please continue to pray for the people we serve, especially the families and individuals who find themselves in need of a helping hand. And think about how else you might be able to help us radiate the joy of the Gospel in the heart of San Francisco, by volunteering or making a gift to our ministry.
~ Br. Michael James