Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2007

Church upkeep projects honored

St. John’s volunteers ‘make a difference’

April 15, 2007


Taking care of a building that spans an entire city block can be a major undertaking.

When that building houses a church, the undertaking often depends on the generosity of volunteers and members of the community giving of their time and energy.

St. John's Catholic Church parishioners will be honored today by USA Weekend magazine for the work they did in October on Make a Difference Day, which was co-sponsored by the magazine, the Journal-World and other newspapers. The church will be listed in the magazine as one of the groups that participated in Make a Difference Day.

Ellen Sickinger, St. John's director of volunteerism, helped clean out the church basement. Her family, who also helped on the day, worked on other projects around the church, 1234 Ky.

"We were looking for a good way to promote volunteerism," Sickinger said. "But we didn't want something that was a big time commitment."

About 50 members of the parish turned out to help tend the grounds, scrub and paint walls, wash windows and reorganize parts of the aging buildings on the church's campus. Sickinger said the church had another mini version of Make a Difference Day planned on its own for this weekend, but forecasts of cool weather and the potential for snow forced a cancellation.

"The whole purpose - Father John wanted everyone to use their gifts and share them," Sickinger said. "It was great to be able to help the church."

The Rev. John Schmeidler is pastor of the community and has been at the church for about three years. Susan Campbell, who oversees the office staff at the church, said that since arriving, Schmeidler has made it a point to teach the parish to become ministers to one another - and not just to rely on the priest.

She said Make a Difference Day and other efforts to promote volunteerism and stewardship help make that goal a reality.

"People just really turned out. It was so cool because it was people of all ages," Campbell said.

Campbell said she spent most of her time washing windows in the church's office building.

"Besides making the place look better, it was a really neat community-building thing," she said.

Make a Difference Day kicked off with a daily Mass. Claudia Kressig said in an e-mail that the Mass even convinced some parishioners who hadn't planned to take part in the Make a Difference campaign to join in.

Kressig, former director of volunteerism for the church, said that part of the effort was to make sure Make a Difference Day was a fun experience for the community.

"We wanted a celebration of our gifts and an easy way to share them. Father John has tried to lead us in change from the heart," Kressig said.


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