Charity: a connection with life Print
Grand Mom
Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

grand mom

When a recent series of health problems prevented me from my usual daily activities, including daily Mass, I felt loved by the attentions of my family.

They bought my groceries, picked up my prescriptions, and took me to the doctor. I found myself saying, “Okay, Lord, I get it. That’s why you gave me so many kids. Now give me back my independence.”

At last the Sunday came when I was well enough to drive myself to St. Joseph Church, Fort Atkinson.

Fond farewell

It was the Sunday that the parish held a farewell party for our former St. Joseph School principal Len Bannon and his wife Sandy.

I had spent many hours working with Len on educational committees and with Sandy on parish council.

The Bannons had been such a valuable part of our parish life for so many years, and now were moving to Illinois to be closer to their children. (I could vouch for the importance of that!) I wanted to extend my well wishes to this admirable couple, but could I push myself to stay a little longer?

I did, and the effort paid off.

Spending a relaxed time with parish friends, as we sipped coffee and nibbled doughnuts, was an important part of my healing process. Sandy assured me that they would continue their subscription to the Catholic Herald and would look forward to my “Grand Mom” column. That assured me we could still be connected.

Giving of ourselves

It was what Sandy had to say in her “farewell” speech, however, that really struck a chord in me.

After his retirement from education, Len had devoted the first two or three years to remodeling their Blackhawk Island home.

He had completed the beautiful new kitchen just in time for the cruel flood of 2008.

Dozens of friends rescued Len and Sandy with food, lodging, and reconstructing their home. Many of them were, she claimed, the friends they had made through their own volunteer efforts.

Sandy urged everyone to volunteer, to become more involved in parish activities. It’s the old “tossing crumbs upon the water and having it come back in loaves.”

It isn’t only the headline-making floods and tornadoes, however, that require volunteer work.

Point hits home

This hit home for me last week when my daughter, Elizabeth, was able to move out of her hotel in Rochester, Minn., and move into Hope Lodge while she continues her chemotherapy at Mayo Clinic.

It is a residence exclusively for cancer patients and their caregivers where they can enjoy social activities in between their therapy sessions.

Each unit of four shares a kitchen where they can prepare their own food when they wish, but volunteer organizations frequently provide full meals.

A team of two Mennonite women come for six months at a time. They cook and bake for them and even clean their rooms. “We don’t believe in proselytizing about our faith,” one explained. “We do it in our actions.”

Christian love through charity

In my whole life I have witnessed thousands of examples of such charity in our own parishes.

Catholic charity abounds even when, unlike Sandy, the recipient, has no past connection with volunteerism. But we don’t have a corner on charity. Other churches are in there, too, in the name of Christian love. It is beautiful to behold.

Not only did I experience the healing power of socializing that day, but I live each day now delighting in my daughter’s enthusiastic reports about the friendships she is making in a place called Hope.

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