I remember well the times in my own life, of the desire to participate in ministry but finding myself surrounded by small, very energetic children… and while I could participate from time to time in Bible studies and small groups, I wondered how I could truly participate in ministry with the Church while having so many little ones in tow. Certainly there is something that could accommodate all of us. After all, living a life of service to those most poor and vulnerable is an important part of our Catholic life, right? Life doesn’t just begin after the kids are grown… or does it?
Well there is one way you and the kiddo’s can participate in Care of God’s Creation – one of the themes of Catholic Social Teaching, which harkens upon respect for human life by respecting God’s creation – “we must re-engage with our environment and take responsibility for it; live sustainably, live so that there are enough resources for everyone.” and you can do this through the Parish Community Garden Ministry. What child (young or old) doesn’t like being outside digging in the dirt; yah, okay, or maybe rather chasing the butterflies while their brother digs in the dirt? What is so great about the Parish Community Garden at OLMC is that it was started by one of our own youth parishioners, back in May of 2011, Laura Stephens, who at the time was a senior in the IB program at Warwick High School.
This young lady, active in youth group, as well as dedicated to service in her community approached the leadership of the Parish and asked if a Garden could be established on property to benefit those coming to our Outreach Office in need of food. Her desire was to bring from the fruit of the earth, healthy fresh vegetables to give to those in need of food who come to our Food Pantry for assistance.
When a family can participate in ministry together, especially from the youngest of years, there is no doubt that it cultivates hearts that are naturally bent toward the poor… towards one’s brothers and sisters in Christ… bringing forth a very rich harvest of connectedness to the other.
Imagine your little ones, while running about and maybe even chasing the butterflies, they stop to help you water the garden, help you pick the vegetables and bring that fruit into the Outreach Office. Asking you questions and seeing the place on the Church grounds where the poor are served (not interacting with the poor but seeing the space) and all the while silently growing up, knowing that the call of our Catholic faith is to recognize all those around us who may need from our surplus and reaching out as we can to assist. It is the smallest of things that we do that connects our families into the faith that we wish to hand on. And while you’re coming this way anyway for ministry, pack a sack lunch and spend some time with each other on the playground afterward.
We could not only utilize someone who would like to be a coordinator to manage the schedule of volunteers for planting and watering and harvesting (very simply this would be someone to get the word out via email to those on the team), in addition we need families to do the initial planting and/or families to help water and harvest during the spring/summer on a rotation schedule. This is a GREAT ministry for all of you out there with young children in your families. A wonderful way for everyone to be in ministry together – which is rare to find. Contact Tina @ 757-595-0385 ext. 118 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested in more information or would like to volunteer.