August 11, 2017

Ladies’ clubs continue to share their gifts at parishes

By Cynthia Dewes (Special to The Criterion)

GREENCASTLE—We often hear that ladies’ clubs are the backbone of a parish. That’s because they tirelessly raise funds, sponsor events, keep up the church and generally serve the members of their spiritual family and the wider community.

In earlier times, when women did not often work outside the home, they had more time to volunteer for such work. And there is more competition today from social media and recreational activities, so that social and service groups like ladies’ clubs and the Lions clubs, Elks and others are losing membership.

But the Ladies’ Guild of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle proves that it can still be done, and done well. Although it’s the only Catholic parish in Putnam County and not the largest one in the Terre Haute Deanery, it provides continuous support to both. At monthly meetings, members hear speakers on current subjects, socialize and plan their many activities.

St. Paul Parish was established in 1853, and with it the St. Ann Ladies Altar Society, as it was then known. Its purpose was to procure necessary things for the altar and the celebration of the Mass. They purchased a monstrance and thurible for the church, as well as altar linens, cassocks and surplices, candles, incense, altar wine and so on. They cleaned the church regularly, and also contributed money to maintaining the church building with new wiring, light fixtures and other renovations.

Now, more than 160 years later, the Ladies Guild still does all those things, as well as prepare food baskets for needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and decorate the church for Christmas and Easter liturgies. They provide gifts for first Communion and confirmation candidates and for the parish staff at Christmastime.

The guild manages Lenten soup suppers and offers support to community groups such as the Family Support Services, Care Net and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Their scholarship committee each year awards a $1,000 scholarship and two $500 scholarships to high school seniors.

At Christmastime, the Guild helps the Terre Haute Deanery with Catholic Charities efforts and the deanery’s Christmas Store. They provide the Christmas Store with items for each child, including new outfits, new socks and underwear donated largely by St. Paul parishioners, and a toy.

Twice a year, the Ladies Guild holds rummage/bake sales to help support its activities. They also have an annual Christmas Bazaar which features handcrafted items and baked goods, as well as gently used toys and clothing.

St. Paul Ladies Guild proves that even smaller parishes with dedicated volunteers can provide impressive support for enriched worship, service to the community and personal satisfaction.

(Cynthia Dewes is a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle.)

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