“Faith without works is dead.”
Chapter two of the Epistle of James is a feisty debate about faith and works. The author goes so far as to call his opponent, “you ignoramus,” after he argues his point:
“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James 2:15-17
The Year of Service continues as church members change the world through acts of service and mercy. The year began when parishioners wrote their names on bricks and attached them to a wall in the Vestibule. The bricks symbolized their commitment to perform two corporal or spiritual works of mercy.
The Church has long taught that the seven Corporal and seven Spiritual Works of Mercy are the foundation of service.
The Church of Saint Mary and the School of Saint Mary are alive in the faith. Our faith is made visible by our actions.
Last summer, a group of adults and older teenagers flew to Jamaica to work with the poorest of the poor. The group, led by Rachel Schlittler, partnered with the Missionaries of the Poor, a religious order based in Kingston who minister to persons with disabilities. Our parish group prayed, sang, talked, and cared for a large group of residents of the Jamaica mission.
School of Saint Mary
The eighth grade class at the School of Saint Mary is constantly doing service projects. Every Monday, a small group of three or four eighth graders help restock the parish food pantry. Girls from the class visited a nursing home in November. Nearly a dozen students prayed at the Garden of Hope during the 40 Days for Life.
The parish Outreach Ministry performs many corporal works of mercy on behalf of the parish. Thanks to an ever-growing pool of volunteers, the ministry operates a food bank and counseling center.
Home Improvement Ministry
The Home Improvement Ministry powered by Encore connects handy parishioners with other parishioners who need minor home repair jobs done. Not only is it a great way to connect parishioners with each other, it creates a bond between ministry members.
Catechists in the church prepare lessons and teach them every week. These volunteers are good role models of faith and service.
Deacon Rich Bender is creating a new parish ministry to work with families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The new Bereavement Ministry’s goal is to offer “compassionate, prayerful support in your time of need.”
Members of the ministry will help families with logistics at the funeral Mass and with the wake service or rosary the prior evening. Ministry members will reserve pews for the family, and direct guests to the guest books and in and out of the church. They will help the family and guests feel welcome and supported.
On the day of funerals, ministry members will continue to offer a hospitable experience. They will also review with the family their roles in the funeral liturgy. Other members might volunteer to housesit during the Mass and interment.
Deacon Rich is accepting applications from parishioners who wish to learn if this ministry is right for them. If chosen to be part of this ministry, members may need to be VIRTUS-cleared to perform some duties.
Parishioners interested in learning more about any of over sixty parish ministries will find summaries at churchofsaintmary.com/ministries.
The Church of Saint Mary is full of people who would be praised by the author of the Epistle of James. The author might say our “faith [is] completed by the works.”