Support for one another in times of crisis, grief, and also celebration has been a long tradition at St. Francis. Three key ministries run by parishioners are part of this tradition: Helping Hands, Stephen Ministry, and the Prayer Circle.
I had been a volunteer with Helping Hands for several years before I was on the receiving end of this wonderful ministry. I suffered an injury that rendered me home-bound, unable to drive for three months. I am a widow who lives alone, and I was very worried about how I was going to manage—my daughter was away at college.
Helping Hands volunteers made sure I had a visit and a meal every day. Whenever I needed a ride to a medical appointment, it was taken care of. In addition to food and groceries, Helping Hands friends kept me supplied with books, DVDs, and companionship. I truly don’t know how I would have managed without the care and support provided by this wonderful group.
Now that I am fully recovered I continue to volunteer with Helping Hands. I feel a deeper connection to my parish family now and enjoy having the occasional opportunity to “pay it forward” by cooking a meal or providing a ride.
My family joined St. Francis in late 1987. I love this church because of the warmth and sense of family I feel when I attend services and fellowship activities. Singing in the choir fills me with God’s Spirit.
Our youngest son was baptized at St. Francis in 1989. Our daughter was married at St. Francis in 1994, and her triplets were baptized here in 2002. Our two youngest sons attended Sunday school and went on EYC mission trips to Buffalo, New York; Montana; New York City; North Carolina; San Diego and the Dominican Republic. They ushered with their Dad every Christmas Eve.
In times of grief and sorrow, our church has lifted us up with prayers and support. Richard's mother's Requiem Eucharist was held at St. Francis, and her ashes are buried in the atrium memorial garden.
The Stephen Ministry program is one of the many important outreach opportunities at St. Francis. In 2006 I was certified as a Stephen Minister and in 2010 as a Stephen Leader. It’s a one-on-one caring ministry for people who would benefit from someone being present with them and praying for or with them during times of need. This quiet ministry gives me the opportunity to give back for all the rich blessings my family has received from St. Francis—our spiritual home.
I have been an active parishioner at St. Francis since the early 1990s and have been part of the St. Francis Prayer Circle for several years. This group of amazing Franciscans prays for members of our parish and others who sometimes have no one else to pray for them.
“Susan”, a friend of one of my neighbors, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2012. The cancer was aggressive and her doctors recommended she undergo a stem cell transplant. The doctors drew blood several days in a row and extracted stem cells that later were reintroduced into her blood. Somehow they were to find their way to her bone marrow.
To be successful, the procedure required that she have no sign of infection in her body. Because Susan was prone to gum infections, she had all of her teeth pulled before the treatment and she wasn’t able to have dentures created for some months afterward. The five-week procedure at Johns Hopkins was an ordeal and the chemotherapy made her terribly ill. It weakened her immune system, so she had to be kept safe from all germs and bacteria. She lost her hair, but that was the least of her worries.
Although she does have my neighbor, Susan does not have family to care and worry over her and the St. Francis community has helped to fill that space. All during this time the Prayer Circle—and the entire parish on Sundays—prayed for Susan. She was constantly in our thoughts, and though she came close to dying more than once, she didn’t. I’m convinced it was due to the power of prayer.
Miraculously, the cancer is being kept under control with medication, and Susan is able to live a relatively normal life. She has returned to work full-time.
Susan is very grateful for our compassion and our continuing prayers.