Card ministry shows parishes care - Catholic Courier

Card ministry shows parishes care

Last June the stewardship committee of the Catholic Communities of St. Anne and St. Gregory in Palmyra and Marion briefly considered starting a card ministry, said committee member Claudine Schreiner. Through this ministry, the parish would send cards to the sick and homebound, as well as those who had recently lost loved ones or were going through difficult situations.

"We had been talking about how to encourage people to come back, and what we could do to get their attention and maybe get them interested in coming back to us," Schreiner said.

The committee eventually scrapped this idea because it didn’t think it could afford the ministry, said Schreiner, who felt so strongly about the need for such a ministry that she decided to take it on herself. She volunteered to run the ministry on a trial basis for one year, taking care of everything from signing the cards and paying for the postage to designing and creating the cards herself.

"I like to play on the computer," Schreiner explained. "For several years I had been making my own cards for family and friends for Christmas and that type of thing."

Schreiner designed several different types of cards, including a get-well card, a sympathy card and a "thinking of you" card and brought them to Father James Jaeger, pastor, for his approval. He soon signed off on them, and the card ministry was up and running by last July. Around the time Schreiner was starting her ministry, St. Anne and St. Gregory joined St. Patrick Parish in Macedon to form a new cluster community.

Each week Schreiner created and mailed cards to all of the people on the prayer list for St. Anne and St. Gregory, keeping track of their names and addresses in a notebook.

"In this way I have kept track of how many cards I have sent out this past year. At this point I’ve got about 280 that I have sent so far," Schreiner said.

When Schreiner sent a card to a St. Patrick parishioner who happened to be on the prayer list at St. Anne and St. Gregory several months ago, that person was grateful to receive a card but curious as to why she hadn’t received one from her own parish, Schreiner noted. When St. Patrick parishioner Phil Klingler heard about this, he decided to start a similar card ministry for his own parish.

He wasn’t sure he was quite computer literate enough to design his own cards, however.

"I have no computer experience. I can turn it on and off, and it usually crashes," he said.

Klingler’s wife, Carol Ann, attends First Baptist Church of Macedon, which has a similar ministry, so she encouraged him to solicit blank cards and sympathy cards from other parishioners.

"I said, ‘All you need to do it put a little notice in the bulletin and explain what you are doing, and you will be overwhelmed with cards,’ and that is exactly what happened," Carol Ann Klingler said.

"I was inundated. After a few weeks I kind of had to say no more, please," Phil Klingler added.

Klingler doesn’t always know the people he’s sending cards to, so the notes he writes inside are often brief but meaningful.

"A lot of times I’ll say we’re dropping you a line to let you know that you are being thought of and prayed for," he said.

He signs the cards from "your brothers and sisters in the parish community of St. Patrick," and then brings them to the parish office, where Father William Laird, pastor, signs them as well.

Klingler said he’s happy to be able to fill a need through this ministry, and it’s been easy for him to incorporate this work into his schedule.

"It’s a good fill-in thing if I get 20 minutes here, half an hour there. It’s one (ministry) that’s good because you can do it as you have the time. You don’t have to show up at a meeting," said Klingler, who’s been involved in the ministry for two months.

Schreiner said the ministry has been "a labor of love," but it’s also a wonderful ministry she’s enjoyed for the past 11 months. She knows she’s making a difference because she’s received a number of notes thanking her for the cards and sharing how much they meant to their recipients.

"If the people are sick, they really like to think they are not forgotten," Schreiner said. "It doesn’t matter who makes the cards or where they are done, but it shows them … that people do care."

These cards also show the people in the pews that they are an important part of the church, she added.

"So many of them come in, they listen at Mass but they slip out and they don’t really know either the pastor or the deacon or the pastoral administrator. They don’t get a chance, and part of that is the priests do not have the time. They are so busy that they need the lay people to back them," she said.

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