By Celine Klosterman
RICHMOND – Echoing Jesus’ parable of the Samaritan who stopped to help a stranger in distress, members of Holy Trinity Parish launched a ministry this fall to extend a helping hand to the community.
With the blessing of Father Marty Goetz, their pastor, parishioners formed the Good Samaritan Committee that aims to help fulfill the social, spiritual or material needs of area residents of any faith. So far, parishioners’ efforts have included holding a community Thanksgiving meal, assisting the Kalona Food Pantry, buying Christmas gifts for local families, giving out gift cards for gas and groceries, praying for sick people and sharing gifts of rosaries and crosses.
“We’re pretty excited to be able to reach out to the community,” said Joyce Mattes, one of the five committee members.
Member Jane Duwa said inspiration for the Good Samaritan effort came from the good things local churches have done for people in the Richmond and Kalona area. Wanting to get Holy Trinity more involved in the community, she and Sandy Marner, co-directors of religious education, set up an angel tree to get Christmas gifts for area children. The following year, Catholics also “adopted” several local families in need and showered them with presents.
This past summer, Duwa said, Holy Trinity heard of a family whose children needed clothes and school supplies. With the approval of Fr. Goetz and the parish and finance councils, the parish took up a collection to help the family. Later, “We wondered, ‘Why not help other people like that?” Duwa recalled.
So in September, Mattes, Marner, Duwa and fellow parishioners Cathy Latta and Valli Ruggiero began meeting after Sunday Mass to discuss ways to reach out to the community. The women later requested funds for their new Good Samaritan Committee from the parish council, which decided to do a collection Dec. 4 and designate 5 percent of weekly collections for the committee.
The committee used some of those funds to serve a Thanksgiving meal to 80 local residents and to support Mary’s Meals, a global hunger-relief campaign. Members also have given gas cards to people making frequent trips to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Mattes said that if parishioners hear of someone who’s in the hospital or needs prayers, many parishioners pray with a blessed rosary or cross before donating it to the person. And Holy Trinity is continuing its Christmas angel tree and family “adoption” efforts, now under the umbrella of the Good Samaritan Committee.
“Two years ago we had this vision of getting more involved in the community, and now it’s happened!” Duwa said. “We have a very giving parish.”
“Holy Trinity has been blessed in so many ways,” Fr. Goetz said. “This is just one way we’re able to give back. I’m really impressed by the initiative these parishioners have taken. They’re truly living the Gospel.”