At St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Henderson, NV, Thanksgiving is a working holiday. For the 20th year, families gathered together to deliver holiday dinners with all the trimmings — and even a table centerpiece — to homebound seniors.
“The real ministry is not so much the food — but a ministry of visitation,” says Dorothy Distel, director of More Youth and Religion Education at St. Thomas More.
In all, they served more than 800 seniors this year, going to nearly 500 homes — in senior apartment complexes, trailer parks and single family homes.
“It was our biggest numbers since we started,” Dorothy says. “There were 150 more than last year.”
Families arrive for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, before attending a special Mass, concelebrated by all Viatorian priests of the parish, including Fr. Mick Egan, CSV, pastor, Fr. Michael Keliher, CSV, associate pastor and Fr. Alan Syslo, CSV.
“Thanksgiving Mass is always packed,” Dorothy says. “It’s a true holy day.”
Afterwards, families return to the parish’s community center and get down to work. More than 300 families turned out to help. They call it, “God’s Love Overflows While Serving” or GLOWS, as they deliver meals and visit with the seniors.
“We try to make sure that the families that volunteer, have time to visit,” says Associate Ken Rosania, pastoral administrator.
Parish leaders partner with HopeLink of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit organization based in Henderson, as well as Meals on Wheels to identify seniors who are homebound or alone on Thanksgiving day.
The parish began the Thanksgiving outreach after realizing that Meals on Wheels does not deliver on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Members of the More Youth group, directed by Dorothy, started the ministry and the need became so big that the entire parish pitched in to help. Many families come back year after year to help.
“A lot of families request the same seniors,” Ken says, “and some of the seniors request the same families. They often stay in touch long after Thanksgiving. It really is a true ministry.”