WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Darlene Vogelgesang, left, and Monique Lamoureux-Veley give practical help to young mothers.
Edmonton – Parishioners at St. Clare Parish are good stewards and it shows. Since Family Day, they have collected about $8,000 worth of baby items and food to help young mothers completing their high school at Edmonton Catholic Schools.
The items will be given to Edmonton Catholic Schools' Our Lady of Grace program, which serves students in the district who are pregnant or have children. The main goal of the program is to help students finish high school.
St. Clare parishioners were so enthused with the project, they started to drop baby items in a crib near the altar before the project was officially launched.
In a matter of days, the crib was overflowing with items. Now it is almost buried in donations, including diapers, baby clothing, sleepers, blankets and food – all the necessities of providing for a baby.
Some parishioners also brought in coupons for diapers, one of the most costly items along with baby formula. A case of good quality diapers goes for anywhere from $30 to $50, prices few teens can afford.
The project, which is part of St. Clare's Stewardship Committee, is appropriately named CRIB Project, which stands for Christian Responsibility by Investing in Babies.
There are more than 80 school girls in the Catholic system who are pregnant or parenting a baby.
"These are teens that have made the decision not to have an abortion and to continue their education at the same time," said Darlene Vogelgesang of St. Clare's Stewardship Committee. "Down the road, they want to be successful parents and have successful lives."
Denine Kalita, a social worker at Our Lady of Grace program, was scheduled to speak at St. Clare on the weekend of March 10-11 "to acknowledge the donations from the parishioners."
Not all pregnant teens have the support of their parents "and so this transition can be very difficult for them," noted Vogelgesang. "This is where Our Lady of Grace program steps in and gives them the support they need, whether it be prenatal classes or any other resources they may need."
The CRIB project is the second project hosted by St. Clare's Stewardship Committee since the fall of 2001, when it collected used household items for low-income tenants of an apartment building in the Abbotsfield area.
"We have many enthusiastic members in the committee who select different ways in which we can animate stewardship in the parish," noted Basilian Father Bob Kasun, the pastor. "These two projects are our first two stewardship activities, to which parishioners have responded with great generosity.
"It's part of the broader effort of evangelization," Kasun added. "As Archbishop Richard Smith has said, 'For us evangelization is the call, stewardship is the response.' So we are attempting to evangelize our neighbours and ourselves and we do it through the response of stewardship."
Looking at the hundreds of baby items in and around the crib, Vogelgesang said: "This is what stewardship is all about - helping our needy and there are a lot that are in need in our community; as Christians we are called to help them out."
Stewardship committee member Monique Lamoureux-Veley said some negative comments were made about the parish collecting items for unwed mothers.
"But we are not supposed to judge; we are supposed to give," she said. "Besides, every child is a gift of God, despite the circumstances and we have to honour that."
The baby items will continue to pile up beside the altar until March 17, when volunteers from Our Lady of Grace program will pick them up to be distributed according to need.
What does this type of project say about St. Clare's? "It says we are doing something more than just coming here every Sunday," Lamoureux-Veley said. "It's a visible sign we are alive and well."