Parish roundup: Trafficking toolkit; ministries for the deaf, homebound and incarcerated communities

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Clip from brochure of St. Andrew Church in Rochester, Michigan, about elderly and homebound ministry.
Clip from brochure of St. Andrew Church in Rochester, Michigan, about elderly and homebound ministry.

by Dan Morris-Young

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For parishes seeking background and practical advice on reaching out to victims of human trafficking, the U.S. bishops have created a "took kit" to use. In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, a special focus has been placed on addressing the tragedy.

Almost 30 volunteers from St. Andrew Church in Rochester, Michigan, take part in the parish's elderly and homebound ministry and currently visit more than four dozen persons, usually at least twice per month. Mary J. Grace, who has been the ministry's coordinator since not long after its inception a decade ago, told NCR she receives calls and emails from around the country asking about the program. Volunteers undergo background checks, receive training and are provided personal identification lanyards. Grace personally oversees making sure their home-bound souls receive Christmas, birthday and Easter cards. A majority of the visited reside in assisted-care facilities, she said. The parish also fields many other efforts — from jail ministry and meals for families in crisis, to a bereavement ministry and outreach to developmentally disabled adults. Grace offered to respond to persons interested in the ministry to aged and home-bound; her email is

The prison card ministry of St. Charles Borromeo parish in Peru, Indiana, is gearing up for Easter, preparing special cards to be mailed to inmates at nearby Miami County Correctional Facility. The group also sends cards at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Member Thelma "Scotty" Webster remembers inmates with birthday cards.

San Francisco's St. Benedict Parish for the Deaf recently added four programs: adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, reconciliation and confession theater, Bible study, and a monthly Catholic saint movie night.

For the deaf and hearing impaired wishing to celebrate the rite of reconciliation, finding a priest fluent in American Sign Language can be extraordinarily difficult, or just out of the question. A retried priest from the Philippines, Fr. Romuald Zantua, has developed the St. Damien Confession Box, which can confidentially connect priest and penitent by computer. Could this concept be used by persons in remote areas — hearing or not — who have no access to a priest?

Books, DVD series, speaking tours, women's movements, outreach to young Catholics, online-ongoing Catholic educator development, e-journals, individual-and-organizational consultations, podcasts, regular physical exercise, daily prayer, raising three young children: welcome to the whirling world of Jonathan and Karen Doyle. Author of Bridging the Gap; 8 Ideas to Change Your Life and How to Get the Man of Your Dreams, Jonathan will keynote the April 17-20 National Catholic Education Association convention in St. Louis where he will introduce his newest book,Tools and Fuels: How Catholic Teachers Can Become Saints, Beat Burnout and Save the World.* Karen is the booster rocket for The Genius Project and the Australian women's movement, Sisterhood. With their children (ages 9, 8 and 6), the Doyles belong to St. Benedict Parish in Narrabundah, a suburb of Canberra, Australia. Jonathan returns to the U.S. in October "and will be speaking in a number of dioceses," Karen emailed NCR. Oh, she also has a line of stationary quote cards, Inspired by Grace.*

[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's West Coast correspondent. His email is Tom Roberts, NCR editor at large, contributed to this report.]

*Updated to include additional detail about the Doyles' activities.

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