Dads and Kids Making a Difference
A group of Dads with children are excited about doing acts of community service together on a monthly basis. This ministry gathers monthly, doing a simple service project and celebrating their accomplishment.
What an awesome way to bring parish families together and create the connection between church, service and forming community in the lives of young children. Please bring your energy, project ideas, and your children, in order to make a difference in small ways. Please contact the parish office for more information.
Get on the Bus
“Get on the Bus” began in 2000 to respond to an unmet need for transportation, so that children could be united with their parents in prison. At that time, fifteen children and their caretakers traveled on one bus from Los Angeles to Chowchilla to spend four hours with their mothers on the Friday before Mother’s Day. Some had not seen their mothers for several years or more.
In 2009, fifty busses and over one thousand children traveled from all over California for Mother’s Day, and several busses took children to visit their dads for Father’s Day. For the past four years, the Diocese of Santa Rosa has had a bus leave Santa Rosa for the 281 mile journey to Chowchilla with many beautiful children aboard. If you’re interested in knowing more about “Get on the Bus” or becoming involved in this ministry, please contact our Parish Office at 707-963-1228.
Rachel’s Vineyard Prayer Shawl Ministry
Rachel’s Vineyard is a healing retreat for post abortive women. The prayer shawl ministry supports the participants by providing them with handmade shawls.
If you have gifts of artistic expression, giving and intercessory prayer, please consider joining the ministry. Members are provided with patterns for shawls which they knit individually or in prayer groups. Knitting is accompanied by prayer for the eventual owner of the shawl. The knitter writes a short note of encouragement to the recipient of the shawl. The shawl is worn by the participant at the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat and afterwards as a sign of God’s love and support. For more information please contact the parish office (707)963-1228.
Respect Life Ministry
The main focus of the Respect Life Ministry in on the sacred dignity of all human life from natural conception to death. Our purpose is to support efforts to protect the unborn and provide expectant mothers a safe and nurturing shelter, to witness our belief in pro-life by prayer and public presence, and refer those in need of healing for the loss of a deliberate or accidental loss of a baby to Rachel’s Vineyard. Our outreach includes education and awareness for child, spousal, and elder abuse prevention. We also support our Roman Catholic Popes in seeking the end to the death penalty in our country and world. We provide information to our parishioners on issues that threaten life, and means to help support life and end of life care.
If you would like to join us in our efforts to educate, support and serve please contactthe Respect Life Ministry. For more information please call the parish office (707) 963-1228.
St. Vincent de Paul of St. Helena Catholic Church
The St. Vincent de Paul Society is a ministry that provides direct assistance to anyone suffering or in need. Through donations to our church we supply food, clothing, transportation and financial support to people in our community. Every day the St. Vincent de Paul Society assists many people who come to the door of the rectory looking for help.
We need more volunteers to help us with various projects such as making home visits to verify need, and distributing goods, and collecting money on the fifth Sunday of the month. If you have gifts of serving others, giving, administration and communication, please consider joining this ministry. For more information please contact the parish office (707) 963-1228.
Kairos Prison Ministry
Weeks ago, during the Presidents Day weekend, 47 men, lay Christians, gathered at San Quentin Prison to welcome 42 inmates to a 4 day spiritual, non-denominational experience targeted to demonstrate God’s transforming unconditional love and infinite forgiveness. The inmates voluntarily enrolled in the retreat on the urging of fellow prisoners, who had experienced the program, without having any idea of what laid before them. Noteworthy among the inmate candidates was the presence of an atheist, an Indian Sikh, a Jew and three Muslims; all interested in broadening their spiritual journey.
“Kairos” is a Greek term meaning “God’s special time”. As its name suggests, Kairos Prison Ministry International is a USA based world-wide prison ministry in ten countries, including 38 states with 22 entities in California. It is estimated that each year 36,000 lay volunteers are involved in putting on these retreats, offering x hours of involvement. St. Helena Catholic Church parishioners Tony Holtzhauer and I are participants at San Quentin Prison retreat. The first Kairos retreat took place in 1989. Since then the prison has had 48 such weekends, reaching over 2,000 inmates. Two retreats are held each year on Labor Day and Presidents Day weekends. There is a two-year waiting list for inmates.
The 4-day retreat is patterned after the Cursillo movement format, modified to satisfy the security requirements of the local prison. There are team presentations, small group discussions, singing and presentations of the team’s personal involvement, love and care. Prior to the weekend a team of 45 men and 9 women is assembled to put on the program. All teammates must sign an agreement affirmed by their respective Church Pastor that the individual is a Christian and believes in the Holy Trinity. The women cannot be involved inside the men’s prison, but are deemed “Angels” who offer in the meal preparation, team discussions, and prayer support during the weekend. Six team training meetings are held in preparation for the Kairos weekend.
Why do I participate in Kairos? I have found that Kairos offers the most spiritual rewards for the inmates and me for the time expended. The transformation that takes place over the 4 days in the inmates is profound, long lasting and develops a sense of belonging to a “brotherhood” within and outside the prison. After the weekend, there are monthly reunions within San Quentin for all graduates of the program to sustain their zeal in the program and maintain the fellowship of the developed personal relationships. I feel that I get more spiritual rewards than those received by the inmates!
Who are the inmates? San Quentin is no longer the home for violent, undisciplined, hardened criminals. They are found at Folsom, Vacaville and Pelican Bay facilities. Inmates aspire to be at San Quentin for its over 80 self-improvement programs. Many of the candidates are “lifers” and have committed crimes involving the death of victims. We never ask the reason for their imprisonment; the inmates usually offer this information.
Most of the candidates feel that they could never be forgiven for their transgressions. After the program, inmates are encouraged to form small prayer groups within the prison to foster fellowship, prayer, bible study and spiritual activity.
The Transformation. Inmates are truly motivated and moved by the program’s content and the genuine love, care and forgiveness exhibited by the Kairos team. At the graduation segment, inmates are encouraged to vocalize their personal encounter with Kairos. Many inmates are brought to tears in describing their experience. The Jewish inmate felt that the message of Kairos transcends any religious denomination “sandboxes” (my word). The atheist had no belief in God prior but afterwards, he exclaimed “well, maybe there is a God”. Recently, the Indian Sikh stated, “I bow to no man, but I now bow to the Kairos Team for their love, commitment and care”. He dropped to his knees and bowed three times.
How can I be involved in Kairos? Kairos is privately funded by donations from individuals, churches and team members. It takes an investment of $250 per team member to put on a weekend retreat. This amount funds lodging, meals and materials for one teammate. Checks can be written payable to Kairos San Quentin at P.O. Box 176, San Quentin, CA 94964. If you would like to be involved as a team member, please contact me at 707-967-9227 or Tony Holtzhauer at 707-963-9707.
Blessings in Lent and beyond. Please keep the prison Kairos retreats in your prayers.
Thank you, Greg DeLucca