Mary Vlazny
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Have you ever sat by the side of the road with a flat tire? Maybe with kids in the car? What an inconvenience you might mutter, along with other things (out of children’s earshot). And was it night, with cars whizzing by? And maybe winter with the snow piled up and piling up as you measure the prospect of being stranded? It is dark, and bleak, and the prospects of rescue are slim. This is one of the places where I seriously open the “prayer line”. I know in my heart this line is always open to God who loves and accompanies me, but I pay particular attention to the response in this dialogue when the chips are down. This is the same when I have visited with someone after Mass who is shouldering a burden that calls forth their response of love. I can help with their labor of love through prayer for their support and presence. This is similar to what happens with people who initially come to our parish for other reasons.

Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, people arrive at the St. John doors early, often before 7am. Some days it is dark, cold, snowy and they are waiting for the light to be opened to them, the doors opened, so they can come into a warm place. Some have spent the night outside or in some temporary shelter, like their car. They may be living in that car with other family members, even children. There are as many different experiences of want and need as there are people and they have heard that this is a church that helps. How wondrous that must sound to someone who is desperate for help! The Co-Cathedral of St John the Evangelist Catholic Church helps people!

The “first responders”, after Karlo the custodian opens the door, are parishioners who volunteer to make some coffee, offer a roll or goodie, and register people to visit about their needs. They provide a welcoming presence to an oftentimes bleak outlook. It may be the bright spot in a string of dark days. We cannot fix people’s problems, but we can offer a smile, a prayer, some refreshment and warmth. This is a ministry of presence. We listen to some stories and witness to other’s silence.

Over the years, there have been faithful people who have participated in this ministry for many years and folks who are new to this way of Christian presence. We welcome the poor and vulnerable who come to us for help and hope that we provide some refreshment of the soul as a primary component of healing and peace. Is everyone happy when they leave? Not always, but many we send forward with a blessing and often hope.

The people who come to St. John’s Door Ministry are seeking an answer to their need. We have helped thousands of people over the years by confirming the importance of presence as a component of helping and healing. We are grateful for your financial support of this ministry through gifts to our Charity Fund. Perhaps you are interested in becoming a part of this ministry on a Tuesday or Thursday morning. Open the door of your heart to see if you might be a presence of welcoming to our guests. For more information, or to volunteer, contact Mary at the Parish Center.

Mary Vlazny
Director of Social Action
507-288-7372 ext. 4511
mvlazny@s.org