Suicide prompts parish kindness project

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — Kindness is Christ (KIC), a family Lenten program about being the face of Christ to others, came about after Christine Schmidt gave talks on the experience of her daughter Morgan’s suicide last year.

Schmidt, a member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, has talked about her daughter’s suicide, which occurred April 6, 2014. The 12-year-old had been cyber bullied, but didn’t give any indication of how it had affected her, her mother said.

Since Morgan’s death, Schmidt has talked with parish nurses and at schools and churches about how people’s actions and words can affect others. Her talks focus on how “Kindness is Contagious.”

Cathy Thennes, parish nurse at Our Lady of Lourdes, said a group at the parish adapted Schmidt’s Kindness is Contagious theme to create Kindness is Christ, which has a religious aspect.
“It’s meant for Catholic school students, religious education students, families and parishes in general,” Schmidt said.

Based on St. Teresa’s Prayer that Christ has no body but yours, the Lourdes Lenten program encourages everyone to be like Christ through Christian, charitable actions.

A display in the parish’s gathering space provides informational fliers with examples of acts of kindness and KIC tags that depict feet, hands, eyes, lips, heart and ears.

The feet represent doing — going out and doing service for others in the community. Hands are for helping —doing random acts of kindness such as shoveling someone’s driveway or putting away the dishes without being asked. Eyes are for seeing — introduce yourself to someone new. Be welcoming. Lips are for speaking —say something nice to lift someone up. Give praise, not criticism. The heart is for feelings — pray for others. Give a hug to someone and let that person know that God loves him or her. The ears represent hearing — listen to someone’s story; give full attention without interjecting. Visit a nursing home or someone in need.

After performing an act of kindness, individuals may cut out a KIC tag and write a short sentence about what they did. The tag listing the action is hung on a cross in the gathering space. Thennes said if the cross becomes full a basket will be set out in which people may deposit examples of acts of kindness.

The gathering space display includes an image of Jesus that a former teacher of Morgan’s gave to the Schmidt family after Morgan’s death. “It sits in our dining room at home and brings me peace,” Schmidt said. She wanted to share the picture with the parish through the project.

Examples of what parishioners have done will be published in future bulletins. Families are encouraged to make a cross at home for the week, then bring their KICs to church.

Schmidt hopes that KIC project will continue beyond Lent and inspire people to become better Christians.

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