Parish roundup: Flint, Michigan has lessons for parishes; remembering Kendrick Castillo

Archangel Attic volunteer Kathy Jacoby, right, assists a customer at the parish thrift store next to St. Benedict Church in Anchorage, Alaska. (CNS/Catholic Anchor/Ron Nicholl)

by Dan Morris-Young

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Archangel Attic, a thrift shop ministry affiliated with St. Benedict Parish in Anchorage, Alaska, has raised $1 million in support of Lumen Christi High School, which is also a ministry of the parish. 

What lessons might the larger Catholic community learn from the outreach and initiatives taking place within — and because of — the Catholic Community of Flint, Michigan? In a unique experiment, the City of Flint, Michigan, itself — besieged by economic and health issues — has become the boundary of the Catholic faithful rather than parish confines, with an emphasis on serving the community both inside and outside church buildings. Under the leadership of Fr. Tom Firestone, nicknamed "the pope of Flint," the Faith in Flint initiative was launched in 2015, based at the city's four remaining parishes, now called "campuses." A number of ministries have been formed including St. Luke NEW Life Center, Dorothy's House of Coffee, Firestone Center, and St. Francis Prayer Center.

Take a walk around Flint with Deacon Mike Martin

The outreach team of the Catholic Community of Flint in front of Dorothy's House of Coffee in Flint, Michigan (Kim's Photography)

Kendrick Castillo, right, with his father, John Castillo (Courtesy of the Knights of Columbus Council 4844)

Knights of Columbus Council 4844 of Southwest Denver has helped pay the funeral costs for Kendrick Castillo, the 18-year-old killed May 7 when he lunged at a shooter who was attacking STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. Castillo and two others are credited with saving the lives of classmates, eight of whom were wounded. Only Castillo died. He had logged nearly 2,600 volunteer service hours with the Knights and planned to become a member of the fraternal organization like his father, John. Kendrick graduated from Notre Dame Parish School in Denver.

Related: When news of the shooting reached St. Mark Parish, located about 2 miles from STEM School Highlands Ranch, staff members immediately began calling the nine parish families known to have children at the school. None of the 11 students in those families were hurt. The parish also held all-day eucharistic adoration and a prayer vigil May 9, followed by an open-house where grief counselors were available.

Fr. Gregory Bierbaum, pastor of St. Mark Parish in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, leads a prayer service May 9 for victims of a May 7 shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado. (CNS/The Colorado Catholic Herald/Joseph Ambuul)

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukranian Greek-Catholic Church in Centralia, Pennsylvania (Photo courtesy of the Assumption Church historic archives)

The Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria, Virginia, helps backbone Carpenter's Shelter, a robust program to help the homeless find housing and transition to self-sustaining independence. It traces its history to a cold winter night in 1982, when Fr. Tony Casey of Alexandria's Blessed Sacrament Church found one man sleeping in a car and another asleep in a church doorway.

Interested in nitty-gritty ministry to refugees and others new to the United States? The Refugee Outreach Ministry at St. Madeleine Sophie Parish in Bellevue, Washington, provides a good working model.

Related: Several agencies and entities in the Seattle Archdiocese are co-sponsoring "Sharing the Journey: Third Annual Catholic Immigration Summit" June 8 at Seattle's St. Catherine of Siena Parish. Presenters will include Tony Cube, national manager of Justice for Immigrants for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Known by some as the "church that wouldn't burn," Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukranian Greek-Catholic Church in Centralia, Pennsylvania, remains in active use despite the fact that Centralia has largely been condemned and abandoned because of a 1962 underground fire that broke out in a coal mining tunnel. The fire still smolders today.

[Dan Morris-Young is NCR West Coast correspondent.]

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