Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Nov
  • 29

Opportunities to share from your abundance or your need

Posted By November 29, 2012 | 1:10 pm | Lead Story #1
Catholic Charities Thanksgiving Meals Kowalchek

By Tanya Connor

“Dear Papa Noel, you never pass to our house. You don’t even give us a cloth doll. … Our parents are not working. They have no money to feed us, even less to buy a doll, balloon and sparkler. … Come Papa Noel, please, bring us at least some joy. … My clothes are in rags. I need a little dress and a pair of shoes … to wear for the New Year.”
Sister Marie-Judith Dupuy says she and her siblings sang this song by Yole Derose in Creole when they were growing up in Haiti. But the Sister of St. Anne who now directs the Worcester Diocese’s Haitian Apostolate didn’t see its reality until her novitiate.
Her mother, a business school teacher, gave her and her siblings big Christmas gifts when they were children, but explained that not every child in Haiti received such things, she recalls.
She says she didn’t meet such children, however, until she was sent to be principal of Ecole St. Anne in Chardonnieres, which more recently twinned with Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Webster. One of her “foolish decisions” was sending home students who came to school without socks and shoes, she says. When she learned their parents couldn’t afford such things, she paid for them with school funds.
She’s still doing that – with your money now. She’s planning her annual Christmas party for students in the Les Cayes Diocese whom people here sponsor. So far about half of the sponsors have responded to her letter requesting money for shoes and/or a coloring book and crayons for their child. Some have delivered other gifts to her office in the Chancery.
One sponsor called her student “my daughter,” pronouncing her name with a French accent, Sister Judith says.
“That’s all I want it to be – a loving connection,” she explains. “The child is not a number, but has a name.”
She says $25 will buy a pair of shoes, the gift students are anticipating.
She is asking sponsors and others to send checks made out to the Haitian Apostolate to 49 Elm St., Worcester MA 01609 by St. Nicholas’ Day – Dec. 6. Extra donations can help defray the party’s cost and buy gifts for children who come uninvited. The deadline for bringing Sister Judith non-monetary donations is 4 p.m. today.
Pressing needs abound. Sister Judith says Hurricane Sandy destroyed gardens, houses and three chapels (also used for schools) of St. Joseph Parish in Damassin, which twins with St. Aloysius-St. Jude Parish in Leicester. She wonders how to help.
Meanwhile she’s responding to a Christmas song’s requests.
“The dresses I received from St. Columba’s will be given for Christmas,” she says, rejoicing in handmade donations from a group at the Paxton parish. “Remember the song?”

There are also people in need closer to home – your home, if not theirs. Consider the following from the November 2012 Abby’s House newsletter Bright Spot.
“For many of us, the holidays remind us of where we belong.  … After all, home is where the heart is, right? Imagine for a moment that such a place no longer exists. What would you do? How would you feel? For the women at Abby’s House, the idea of home is often a distant memory, or perhaps something they have never fully experienced.
“Because of the generosity of so many people, our women will have a warm place to live … a child in our shelter will feel cared for, because of a toy received; residents and shelter guests will feel special, because of the gift bags we distribute each Christmas. These are not just gifts, but reminders that our residents belong somewhere; that they are part of a family.”
The newsletter requests flannel twin sheets, towels, scarves, gloves, travel mugs, car snow brushes, flashlights, and gift cards for pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and coffee shops.
Gifts for your loved ones, purchased through Amazon, can also benefit Abby’s House. See for details.
One gift idea is Annette Rafferty’s new memoir, “Still Wearing Smooth the Path: 10 More Years at Abby’s House 2001-2011.” She has a book signing at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at Gale Free Library, 23 Highland St., Holden. Proceeds from the $25 book (shipping costs $3) support Abby’s House. See or call Marj Ropp at 508-756-5486.

• The Diocesan Office for Vocations is seeking gift cards from Staples, Walmart, CVS and Best Buy for seminarians. Father James S. Mazzone, office director, said such gifts help the men with needs for their studies and ministries. He can be contacted at 508-340-5788 or email

Catholic Charities is seeking sweatshirts, sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves and mittens for children and adults, children’s books, non-perishable food, and gift cards for Walmart, Target, grocery stores and pharmacies. Contact Cynthia Taberner at or 508-860-2250.
Volunteers are needed at Catholic Charities at 10 Hammond St., Worcester, at 9:30 a.m. Christmas day to help deliver the Bishop’s Christmas Dinner to homes. Contact Bob Cronin at 508-860-2261.
The Guild of St. Agnes is seeking gifts for children from newborn to age 12, disposable diapers and related items, pajamas sizes 3-12 months, pants sizes 3T-5T, children’s hats, mittens and coats, and gift cards for discount stores, toy stores and grocery stores. The Guild also wants volunteers to read to children weekly for three months. Contact Sharon Woodbury at or 508-755-2238.

• Pernet Family Health Service is seeking children’s toys and clothes, books and videos, and gift cards for teenagers and families. Contact Michael Rezkalla at or 508-755-1228, ext. 251.

• Gifts for children can be delivered, or money to buy them can be mailed, to Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope, 242 Canterbury St., Worcester MA 01603. Online donations to the former Refugee Apostolate can be made at Contact Deacon Walter and Kathy Doyle at 508-831-7455.

• Visitation House is seeking sleepwear, coats and umbrellas for women, water bottles, adult lunch boxes, scrapbooking and other craft supplies and gift cards to grocery stores, pharmacies and discount stores. Contact Sherry Robbins at or 508-798-8002.

• Marie Anne Center at St. Bernard Church is seeking  winter hats and mittens for school-aged children. Contact Sister Michele Jacques, SSA, at 508-736-6986.

• Nativity School of Worcester is seeking art supplies, sports and music equipment, and clothes: khaki pants and white, button-down shirts, belts, and dress shoes in sizes from boy’s small to men’s medium. Contact Patrick Maloney at or 508-799-0100.

• Dismas House is seeking sheets, blankets, toiletries, pajamas, hats and gloves for male residents. Especially needed are grocery store gift cards and donations to the Father Brooks House winter heating fund. Volunteers are needed to bring or cook meals to share with residents. You can also support Dismas House by going Christmas shopping at Contact David McMahon at or 508-799-9389.

• Bibles and “plastic and cord” black rosaries are needed for inmates at  Worcester County Jail and House of Correction. Contact Deacon Gary and Elizabeth Miller at

• SS. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker House is seeking coats, waterproof mittens, bus passes and gift cards for restaurants and clothing stores. Contact Scott and Claire Schaeffer-Duffy at 508-753-3588.

• The Mustard Seed Catholic Worker is seeking clothing, sleeping bags, blankets – and housing donated for shelter – for adults sleeping outside. Call Donna Domiziano at 508-754-7098.

• Jeremiah’s Inn is seeking men’s hats, gloves, scarves and shirts. Especially requested is a size 7X shirt and pair of sweatpants, and a size 14 EEE wide pair of sneakers and socks to fit. Contact Denise Hurley at 508-755-6403.

• Worcester County Food Bank is seeking non-perishable food to be dropped off at 474 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information see or call 508-842-3663.


PHOTO: Patty Kowalchek of Auburn helps assemble meals for delivery for the Bishop’s Thanksgiving Dinner, sponsored by Catholic Charities. Photo by L.A. Faille