Volunteers spruce up 'spiritual home' - Catholic Courier

Volunteers spruce up ‘spiritual home’

The parishioners of St. Mary’s Parish in Rushville appear to be a community of people who love their church and aren’t afraid to step up to the plate to do what needs to be done, even if it means working outside in the drizzling rain on a gray May Saturday morning.

The parish house and yard, which sit next to the church, were teeming with activity for several hours on May 15, as more than 20 parishioners volunteered their time to spruce up their “spiritual home.” Several volunteers took charge of the garden alongside the church, while others gathered fallen sticks from the yard and fed them through a wood chipper. Still more volunteers scraped flaking paint from window frames of the parish house, while others perched on the roof and cleared the gutters using a trowel.

“To us, it’s the spirit which matters,” said Diane Harris, who coordinated the event. “And this is our home, our spiritual home. It means a great deal that folks are willing to spend four hours on a Saturday freshening up the Lord’s property when everyone has so much work to do around their own (homes).”

When asked why they were giving up their Saturday to do chores and dirty work, an overwhelming majority of the volunteers gave the same simple answer.

“This is my church. It needs to be done. I think it’s the same reason that everybody’s here,” Jeanne Charland explained as she scraped paint from window panes in the parish house’s kitchen.

Fellow parishioner Judy St. Lawrence said she volunteered to clean up the house because she was asked to, and, as a parishioner, she felt it was her responsibility.

“If you’re going to be a part of a community you have to take part in the work as much as the joy,” she said from inside a closet she was cleaning out. Part of her job that morning had been to sort everything in the house’s several closets and take what wasn’t needed out to a Dumpster.

“I think it was a perfect job for me, because I like to clean. I like to sort out, get rid of the things that aren’t needed,” St. Lawrence said.

Carrying garbage to the Dumpster was 11-year-old Ginny Hill’s least favorite part of the day, although she said she especially liked putting putty around the windows. Ginny said completing the volunteer work at her parish helped her meet a community-service requirement for school.

Ginny wasn’t the only young parishioner helping out at the parish house. Joshua Chapin, 10, and Jacob Champlin, 7, said they spent a good portion of their morning stacking old tires that were going to be thrown away. They spent more time, however, talking about what seemed to be the most exciting part of their job.

“We were killing ants,” Joshua said, explaining that many of the tires seemed to have been home to the tiny reddish-gold creatures.

Joshua’s father, Rob Chapin, said he enjoyed working on the parish house and thought it served as a good social event. He added that he thought it was also important for his son to be involved.

“I think it teaches them a lot of Christian values,” Chapin said, noting that it will be up to the next generation to take care of the church some day, so they should learn now.

Chapin’s wife, Kim, was also busy working at the house. The night before, she had collected all the curtains in the house and brought them home to be laundered, and on Saturday she was busy replacing them on their proper windows.

Anne Martin was also busy working on the windows, although in a different way. As she stood outside the house washing the windows, Martin said her fellow parishioners’ enthusiasm was one of the reasons she loved the parish, which she has belonged to for 28 years.

“This crew’s going to work together until they’re done today,” Martin predicted confidently.

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