Among the chief duties of a Christian are spiritual and corporal acts of mercy based on the loving ministry of Jesus. Spiritual works of mercy attend to the nurture of people's souls: comfort the sorrowful, forgive all injuries, bear wrongs patiently, counsel the doubtful, dispel ignorance, confront sin, and pray for the living and the dead. Corporal (bodily) works of mercy care for people's physical needs: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, and bury the dead. People at St. Helena's/Santa Elena are fulfilling this responsibility in a growing number of ministries in the neighboring community.
Threshold Choir is an international organization whose mission is described as:
"Our goal is to bring ease and comfort to those at the thresholds of living and dying. A calm and focused presence at the bedside, with gentle voices, simple songs, and sincere kindness, can be soothing and reassuring to clients, family, and caregivers alike."
Our choir rehearses twice a month and draws its singers from inside and outside the church community. We have singers in several nursing homes on a weekly basis and visit individuals in private homes, as well. We sing to people who are in pain, suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and those who are actively dying. Hospice training has been provided by Little Company of Mary Hospice, and our director is an experienced health care chaplain.
There is no charge to join the group, and we give our time as a gift to the people we see. Singers interested in the choir should contact Deacon Daryce Hoff Nolan.
Our food pantry, launching in the fall of 2017, is our latest ministry to the community. For many years, we had collected food and transported it to a neighboring food pantry for distribution. In recent months, however, we have felt the need to deepen our hands-on commitment to those who experience hunger by serving as a place for both bodily and spiritual nourishment. The pantry will be stocked regularly not only through donations from members of the parish, but through collections of non-perishable food from the neighborhoods near the church. This winter, we collected financial donations and 11 boxes of food to send to Puerto Rico to assist disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Maria.
The Giving Garden
The Giving Garden is a grassroots effort to convert unproductive land into a productive garden, growing vegetables for those in need. Located on the grounds of St. Helena's/Santa Elena, the project was conceived and is maintained by a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer gardeners.
The mission of the Giving Garden is to plant, maintain and harvest fresh produce to feed those in need by donating the harvest to the People's Resource Center, an arm of the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
St. Helena's/Santa Elena conducts a number of outreach activities every year, which have included a collection of baby clothes at Christmas, donations of school supplies for kids returning to school in the fall, and monthly communion services at Peace Village and Briar Place nursing home.