Ministries: Social Action

  • Christmas Sharing: Assist with the holiday program of giving Christmas gifts by parishioners to those less fortunate. October through mid-December. Contact: Mary Witherow at, Phone: 540-885-4346

  • St. Francis ministry to Haiti

    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.

  • 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 a few 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:

    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.

    Contact: Marie Thomas, E-Mail:

  • Mary’s House, located at St. Francis, offers material and spiritual assistance to pregnant women in the area.

    Mary’s House, located at St. Francis, offers material and spiritual assistance to pregnant women in the area.

  • 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. Contacts: Kristi Walsh, Director, E-Mail: or Lisa Olshove, Co-Director, E-Mail:, Phone: 540-213-HOPE
  • 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. All told, there are some 5,000 local Senior Nutrition Programs in the United States. These programs provide well 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 than that 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. A local restaurant provides the meals, and St. Francis volunteers deliver on the second, third, and fifth Friday of the month to seniors in Staunton. The Senior Center prepares meals for clients over 65 years of age. St. Francis volunteers deliver every Wednesday to seniors in Staunton. Most of these seniors live alone, so a weekly visit by a volunteer provides a pleasant opportunity to see a friendly face. Volunteers participate 4-6 times a year. Contact: Gudrun Grimes, E-Mail:, Phone: 540-885-4405

  • St. Francis conducts a ministry to prisoners in the local correctional facilities, offering Mass, communion services, and catechetical classes.

    St. Francis conducts a ministry to prisoners, led by Deacon James Kledzik, in the local correctional facilities, offering Mass, communion services, and catechetical classes.

  • Prison: This St. Francis ministry, led by the Rev. Mr. James Kledzik, 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. Contact: Deacon James Kledzik, E-mail:, Phone: 540-886-2262
  • 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, the Respect Life Committee’s main avenue of outreach has been the St. Francis lay apostolate known as Mary’s House. Mary’s House is an outreach of the St. Francis parish family to pregnant women in our community who come to us with physical, spiritual, and financial needs. We have an office on the ground floor of the parish hall, just below Sacred Page. We offer peer counseling, baby supplies, maternity clothes, temporary housing and material assistance, transportation, and a mentoring program with experienced mothers in the parish.

    A large group from St. Francis participates in the March for Life each January.

    A large group from St. Francis Parish participates in the March for Life in Washington each January.

    As part of its educational ministry, the Respect Life Ministry sponsors the Adult Education class once per quarter, with a 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.

    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. These issues are updated regularly on our website.

    More information is available on the Respect Life website. Contact: Karen Adams, Committee Chair, E-Mail:, Phone: 540-213-3923
  • 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 of Assisi Catholic 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. Check with the St. Francis parish office for the names of contact people for this ministry.
  • St. Gerard: Offering prayer for expectant mothers and those suffering from infertility. More information is available. Contact: Monica Wirth, Coordinator, E-Mail:, Phone: 540-886-8644