Small projects combine to have big impact on poor, homeless

Pick up any issue of the Catholic Voice, especially during Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter, and you’ll likely find at least one story about students from a school or parish religious education program doing some type of volunteer work.

A call to serve is basic to the faith; it’s part of stewardship, it’s one way to express love and concern for others.

As news stories about those volunteer efforts – often part of the Local Briefing pages in each issue – cross my desk, the real value, the real importance, the real focus of those efforts is sometimes lost in the editing, copy editing or proofing that’s a part of my job. It’s about the who, the what, the when and how much or how often.

The dedication of volunteers and the impact of their efforts seems hidden in facts and figures.

But this week, a Page 7 story on the support students at Our Lady of Lourdes School (OLL) in Omaha provide for a monthly dinner for the homeless at the Stephen Center in Omaha prompted me to stop and – as they say – smell the roses.

The OLL students scrub and wrap potatoes for the monthly meal as part of "Feeding the Hungry," an outreach they share with volunteers from OLL-St. Adalbert Parish. But the students do more than wrap potatoes. They also support the effort through prayer, donations and by joining with family members to serve the meal the first Saturday of each month.

Reviewing that story and the important faith-building service of the students, I thought about another story – one of the Local Briefs on Pages 22 and 23 – and I was reminded of similar stories in other recent issues.

In this issue, a Local Brief reports on students at Mercy High School in Omaha raising some $18,000 through a variety of activities during Mission Week last month to support refugees in Nigeria.

Helping the poor overseas was featured in another recent Catholic Voice. Religious education students at St. Francis Parish in Humphrey packaged food for about 6,500 meals for Mercy Meals of Nebraska in Norfolk.

Other recent issues included stories on efforts closer to home, with two schools providing sack lunches for Siena/Francis House homeless shelter. At St. Margaret Mary Parish in Omaha, religious education students and their parents prepared sandwiches and snacks as part of a Family Mission Night program. And students at Mary Our Queen School designed prayer cards to add to their sack lunches for the shelter.

Stories throughout the year highlighted many other efforts. As separate projects, these service programs might not seem significant. But together, they make a difference in the lives of the poor, the hungry and homeless.

And just as important, these programs impact the lives of the young volunteers, giving them a perspective on those in need and how they can help … how they can really make a difference in the world, how they can love as Jesus loved.



Mark Monday, May 1, on your calendar if you’d like to share in a bit of history.

Catholics and Lutherans will join together that evening (see story on Page 3) in a prayer service at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Archbishop George J. Lucas will lead the service, which not only marks the anniversary, but celebrates 50 years of ecumenical dialogue and hope for continued ecumenical efforts.

Pope Francis marked the anniversary in a liturgy with Lutheran leaders in Sweden last fall, and other events are planned locally and around the country.


Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at

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