By Alice Huth-Derrah
For the first time since 2012, the Ministry Fair was again held at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish. Before and after masses on Saturday and Sunday, November 12-13, volunteers belonging to the many ministries of the church welcomed parishioners at engaging and artfully decorated tables set up in Seton Hall. The ministers shared their enthusiasm about their organizations, provided information and answered questions, and highlighted ways in which fellow parishioners can support and help out in different capacities at the parish. Some of the ministries represented at the fair included the Knights of Columbus, St. Vincent de Paul, the Ministries of Hospitality, Altar Servers, Sacristans, Art and Environment, Lectors of the Word, Music, Healing Prayer, Communion, Funeral, as well as the Children and Youth Faith Formation, Adult Faith Formation (RCIA), Holy Spirit Prayer Group, Solo Group, Grief Support Workshops, Women’s Seton Society, and writers for the parish newsletter, The Family Seton.
Ministries are the lifeblood of faith communities and give church members an opportunity to give of themselves, sharing their unique talents and resources to help and bless others. Extending a helping hand through outreach expresses and spreads our faith. If the Holy Spirit is calling, there is a ministry perfectly suited for answering the call. Even some of the larger and perhaps more recognizable ministries such as the Knights of Columbus, with two million members worldwide, always hope to increase their membership. Through the performance of acts of charity and in sharing fraternal fellowship, these men work to become “better husbands, fathers, sons, neighbors, and Catholics.”
The need for support is just as great in other areas of service. Hospitality Ministers provide a vital service to the church because they are the first people that parishioners encounter, “the first faces to greet God’s people.” As one of the ministers at the fair shared with me, the only qualification necessary is to have a “welcoming spirit.” Altar Servers, another essential part of faith sharing, assist the priest and deacon during the Mass and “any registered parishioner and confirmed Catholic” can participate. Some volunteers are involved in more than one ministry, as is the case with Lou Allocco, who serves both as a Lector and as a writer and editor for the parish newsletter, The Family Seton. Lou became a lector more than 30 years ago and “felt a desire to proclaim God’s sacred word to His community the way I felt it inside me.” He also deems it a “privilege” to work with fellow writers who strive to bring relevant information to fellow parishioners through the newsletter.
Some ministries, such as the Solo Spouse Group, provide a positive, safe social outlet for those who may be single or recently widowed. Planned monthly activities provide an opportunity to forge new friendships and the chance to participate in enjoyable activities and develop new interests. Workshops, like the one titled “Grieving with Great Hope,” assist those mourning the loss of a loved one through weekly group meetings, videos, and presentations given by members trained in supporting those experiencing the pain of grief. The women involved in the Women’s Seton Society work all year to organize their annual bazaar, collecting donations from the parish community, and give all proceeds from the event to the church.
Everyone has special abilities. When we share those abilities with others, in service to those in need, we are carrying on God’s work and honoring His example. This is at the heart of the mission Jesus meant for the twelve apostles to carry out, when “He said to His disciples: “The harvest is good but laborers are scarce.” (Matthew 9:37)