Ministries: Social Action
- Christmas Sharing: Assist with the holiday program of giving Christmas gifts from parishioners to those less fortunate. You can help organize tags for the tree, sort presents, or deliver the gifts. Ministry Coordinator: Mary Witherow.
- Haiti Outreach: For over 25 years, St. Francis Parish has had a twin parish in Haiti, St. Louis, King of France, in Pointe-à-Raquette on the island of LaGonave. LaGonave is approximately 35 miles west from the mainland of Haiti. The people who live there are desperately poor and lack basic services such as electricity and adequate sanitation. Food is scarce, and there are few jobs available. Through the generosity of the parishioners of St. Francis, we are able to support the pastor in his efforts to maintain the many humanitarian projects necessary for the health and welfare of the people of LaGonave. Bob’s Clinic, a medical clinic located on the parish campus, is staffed by Haitian medical personnel and is open each day Monday through Friday with emergency care available at all times. Aid for the doctors in delivering more effective healthcare to their patients by supplementing their limited resources can be given by using this form. Other projects include feeding the hungry through various food programs such as the planting of over 200 community gardens empowering the people to become self-sufficient.
Our Lady of Pointe-à-Raquette Catholic School gives children in grades kindergarten through sixth grade the opportunity of education, as well as a hot meal each school day through a sponsorship program. Those wishing to help can use the Haiti sponsorship form to provide support for a child. The “Honor with Books” program provides another way to make an important contribution to students at Our Lady’s School. With a gift to this fund (the donation form is available on this website), donors will help to buy a new book for the library, provide instructional materials for a classroom, or help with teacher training. Such a gift provides a meaningful way to pay lasting tribute to a special person.
The Haiti Outreach Ministry meets 4-5 times a year and a newsletter is printed bi-monthly. There are several opportunities available to learn more about the work we support in LaGonave. Regional and diocesan gatherings are held annually and during Haiti Solidarity Week, which is celebrated in February. There are opportunities to travel to Haiti for those who are interested. Newsletters are posted on this site:
- March 2010
- May 2010
- June 2010
- November 2010
- February 2011
- May-June 2012
- July-August 2012
- November-December 2012
- June 2013
- August 2013
- November 2013
- March 2014
- May 2014
- August 2014
- October 2014
- March 2015
- July 2015
- November 2015
- July 2016
- August 2016
- November 2016
- February 2017
- May 2017
- September 2017
- December 2017
- March 2018
- June 2018
Also of interest: In the Galleries section of this website there is a slideshow of the 2013 trip of parishioners to LaGonave in Haiti as well as a video of the 2014 visit.
Ministry Coordinator: Marie Thomas.
- Mary’s House: The mission of Mary’s House is to help pregnant women with short- or long-term needs by offering Christian love and practical solutions. More information is available. Ministry Coordinators: Susan Kearney and Karen Adams.
- Meals on Wheels/Homebound Meals: The Meals On Wheels Association of America is the oldest and largest national organization composed of and representing local, community-based Senior Nutrition Programs in all 50 U.S. states, as well as the U.S. territories. These local programs are our MOWAA Members. There are some 5,000 local Senior Nutrition Programs in the United States providing over one million meals to seniors who need them each day. Some programs serve meals at congregate locations like senior centers, some programs deliver meals directly to the homes of seniors whose mobility is limited, and many programs provide both services. While remarkable, the one million meals per day figure underestimates the size and shape of our network and its reach and influence in communities across America. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of seniors who receive meals, there are many thousands of professionals employed at the various local Senior Nutrition Programs across the U.S. More notable is the virtual army of volunteers who also “work” for these programs. It is said that this group, numbering between 800,000 and 1.7 million individuals, is the largest volunteer army in the nation.
Meals on Wheels is a non-governmental organization that provides hot noon-day meals to clients who do not qualify for the Senior Center meals. Volunteers pick up and deliver prepared lunches on selected Fridays each month, a duty that takes about 1.5 hours. For Homebound Meals, the Senior Center prepares meals for clients over 65 years of age. St. Francis volunteers deliver every Wednesday to seniors in Staunton; this duty takes about 1.5 hours. Most of these seniors live alone, so a weekly visit by a volunteer provides a pleasant opportunity to see a friendly face. Ministry Coordinator: Jane Ford.
- Prison: This St. Francis ministry provides Communion services and other devotions and instructions in the faith to area inmates at the Middle River Jail and the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Detention Center, both in Staunton, and the Augusta Correctional Center, located in Craigsville. Parishioners from St. John the Evangelist Church in Waynesboro also participate. Ministry Coordinator: Fr. Joseph Wamala.
- Respect Life: The committee has an active program promoting prolife causes at St. Francis, including offering prayer for specific intentions, witnessing publicly for prolife causes, sponsoring speakers on life issues, and other activities to support the Catholic Church’s commitment to life.
Prayer is the number one priority of the Respect Life Ministry. Members commit to weekly private prayer. Whether it be through a holy hour, fasting one day per week, or simply lifting up the Respect Life intentions for each day, we are committed as parishioners to lift the Culture of Life up to the Lord daily and beg for His will to be done. The St. Gerard’s Ministry is another way we are committed to regular prayer, as we pray for expectant parents, those experiencing loss, and couples who desire to conceive. We also participate in public prayer vigils, including the annual March for Life in D.C., as well as the regular prayer vigils occurring outside the three abortion facilities in Charlottesville.
Since 2009, a main avenue of outreach for the Respect Life Committee has been the St. Francis lay apostolate known as Mary’s House, which offers help to pregnant women in our community who come to us with physical, spiritual, and financial needs. We offer peer counseling, baby supplies, maternity clothes, temporary housing and material assistance, transportation, and a mentoring program with experienced mothers in the parish.
As part of its educational ministry, the Respect Life Ministry sometimes sponsors the Adult Education class, with teaching on a topic pertaining to the Culture of Life. We also are available to speak to CCD classes of all ages. We would like to continue this ministry, as well as education in the larger community, including Natural Family Planning instruction. Please consider how you can help in this area.
A large group from St. Francis Parish participates in the March for Life in Washington each January.
Working closely with the Virginia Catholic Conference, we also seek to inform and involve parishioners in contacting lawmakers on various life issues that come before Congress or the Virginia State Legislature.
More information is available on the Respect Life website. Ministry Coordinator: Susan Kearney.
- SACRA: The Staunton Augusta Church Relief Association (SACRA), an ecumenical organization consisting of 79 area churches and congregations in Staunton and Augusta County, was established in 1983 to pool social ministry money in order to provide emergency assistance to the needy of the area. This assistance may be financial for clients facing rent eviction or disconnection of utilities, or with food on a periodic basis. A twelve-member Board of Stewards, representing at least nine different faith communities, sets policy. The SACRA staff is composed of more than 30 dedicated volunteers who staff the office, prepare financial reports, and stock the food given to clients. SACRA’s purpose is to give only emergency relief. Financial help may be given only once in a six-month period, while assistance with food is granted on a monthly basis. Efforts are carefully coordinated among the various churches in the area, the Salvation Army, the Valley Mission, and Valley Mental Health, as well as the local Social Services office. SACRA is an all-volunteer organization in the truest sense of the word. Office expenditures, mainly for telephone and postage, amount to roughly 1% of total outlay. This low amount is directly attributed to the generous provision of space for an office, food storage, and dispensing facilities courtesy of St Francis Church, which has always found a home for SACRA through the years. This support is invaluable and greatly appreciated. Food distribution takes place 9-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or volunteers can stock the food pantry on a weekday or Saturday morning. Contributions of needed grocery items (which should be brought to church the third weekend of the month) or money donations are always welcome. Donate time, purchased goods, or money. Ministry Coordinator: Jane Ford.
- St. Gerard: Offering prayer and support for expectant mothers and those suffering from infertility, helping as needed. The group also provides meals and other assistance for new mothers. More information is available. Ministry Coordinator: Anna Ridenour.
The Haiti Outreach program to the people of the parish of St. Louis gives parishioners of St. Francis an opportunity to help those demonstrably in great need with their contributions of money and prayer.
Mary’s House, located at St. Francis, offers material and spiritual assistance to pregnant women in the area.
St. Francis conducts a ministry to prisoners in the local correctional facilities, offering Mass, communion services, and catechetical classes.