At St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Henderson, NV, Thanksgiving is a working holiday. For more than 20 years, 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.
Fr. Mick Egan, CSV, pastor, describes the holiday outreach as central to the mission of the parish.
“It serves as just another example of the Christian outreach that is so central to St. Thomas More,” Fr. Egan says. “Many of the homebound are delighted by the visit as well as by the delicious meal.”
In all, parishioners served more than 900 seniors this year, going to more than 500 homes — in senior apartment complexes, trailer parks and single family homes.
“It was our biggest numbers since we started,” Dorothy says.
Parish families who sign up to participate, 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.