Local mission groups strive to meet needs near and far

Categories: Around the Diocese


St. Jude Mission Circle in Brandon made these “pillowcase” dresses for children in their sister parish in Barbacoas, Venezuela.

By Kristi Anderson
The Visitor

Parish mission groups are making a difference around the world — whether it’s helping families in need in their own communities, or sending supplies around the state to places like the Red Lake and White Earth reservations, or reaching across borders into countries like Nicaragua, Haiti, Kenya and Uganda.
More than 165 mission groups in the Diocese of St. Cloud have been generously contributing to mission in one way or another for more than 100 years through their prayers for missioners abroad in the “Adopt a missioner program,” in the collection of sewing machines to be sent to countries in Africa, in the “adopting” of families struggling in war times and in the creating and sewing of layettes, baby blankets, diapers, children’s clothing, quilts, dishtowels, curtains and rosaries.

St. Jude Mission Circle
St. Ann Church, Brandon

The St. Jude Mission Circle at St. Ann’s in Brandon started in 1940. Chris Korkowski is a current member of the circle.
“I remember my mother being part of the mission circle,” she said, “and I always tried to follow her good example.”

Korkowski is one of about 10 active members and five or more silent members that help with contributions.

“We give donations to organizations like the food shelf, MCCL and Birthright,” Korkowski said. “We also make lap robes for the local nursing homes for the people who are in wheelchairs. In the past, we have made gowns for hospice and we make baby layettes for Someplace Safe [an organization that helps victims of domestic violence] and for Jingle Bells — a community effort to provide baskets of food and toys at Christmas time.”

Members of the circle also craft handmade items like quilts and embroidered dishtowels that are sold in the Mission Office store in St. Cloud. Some quilts are kept on hand for emergencies, for example, if someone has a fire. They also make church banners and baptismal cloths.

This year, their pastor, Father Peter VanderWeyst, suggested the group make camouflage fleece blankets for all the graduating seniors in the parish.

Because the parish cluster has a sister parish relationship in Barbacoas, Venezuela, the group worked together with the other parishes in its cluster in Urbank, Millerville and Parkers Prairie to make “pillowcase” dresses for girls and shorts for boys that were sent with delegates. Due to political unrest in Venezuela, they have not been able to continue this ministry at this time. They have begun to make World Mission Rosaries that are used to pray for people in Venezuela and around the world.

Korkowski said she will continue to be part of the group as long as she can.

“We are all called to be missionaries, but we are not all able to serve in the same way,” she said. “God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Being part of a mission group is one way to serve others who are less fortunate.”

St. Ann’s Mission Group
St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church, Long Prairie

Shirley Laumeyer has been a part of the St. Ann’s Mission Group at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Long Prairie since it started 50 years ago. Though she is also a substitute teacher, she said the group is her “main thing.”

Members of the group come together to make diapers and baby quilts that are made into layettes for newborn babies. Many of the layettes are delivered to the St. Cloud Mission Office where they are often sent to other countries. Recently, Laumeyer said the group noticed a need for them right there in Todd County, and efforts are under way to also distribute them locally.

“If you think about all the people who are worse off than we are, it really means a lot to do even a small thing for others in need,” Laumeyer said.
Members also create dental bags that go to the St. Cloud Mission Office to be used where needed. Additionally, before Christmas, the group hosts a “Kid’s Corner” at their parish where kids can shop for inexpensive gifts and wrap them for their families.

St. Francis Xavier Mission Group
St. James Church, Randall

This group of about 13 members makes quilts that are given to families in need, used in quilt raffles to raise funds for parishes and schools, and sent to the Mission Office to be used as needed there. They also make World Mission Rosaries, which travel to many locations worldwide.

“You just have to give when and what you can,” said Marie Kempenich Drew, part of the mission group in Randall. “We are a small town so it is good for us to come together. It is also an outlet for us where we can talk about church issues with people who have similar backgrounds and interests. Sometimes it gets heated, but it is good for us to have the chance to talk about what the church teaches.”

Drew is the deanery chair for the Little Falls deanery and the parish chair for the Randall mission group. Each year, she looks forward to the annual mission rally where all the mission groups are invited to come together.

“We enjoy going to the mission rally to see what the other groups are doing,” Drew said. “It’s good to get new ideas and hear what the others are up to.”
The group also builds community by visiting seniors in the area, playing bingo with them and providing lunch at the senior center there.