The Parish of St. George is set amidst a backdrop of cornfields, in a rural corner of Bourbonnais. It’s a long way — more than 70 miles — from the Viator House of Hospitality in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs, but when parishioners heard of the mission of offering a safe home to young immigrant men seeking asylum, they wanted to help.

Parishioners at St. George hold up some of the items collected, back in early March.

That unconditional support was evident this week, when Associate Paula Wasser delivered the donations from St. George parishioners — ranging from new linens and pillows, to jackets, socks and toiletries — to the Viatorian Province Center and Br. Michael Gosch, CSV, Director of Programs and Housing.

Associate Paula Wasser loads her SUV.

“Br. Michael (Gosch) had directed us in what they might need,” Paula said. “It turns out that the timing was perfect. He told us five of the young men are moving into their own apartments and two more young men are moving in.”

Wasser presents the items to Br. Michael Gosch, one of the directors of VHH.

Parishioners collected the items during Lent, as part of their Year of Mary devotion. It was last fall, when parish members — surrounded by a world filled with growing conflict and tensions — decided to focus on the positive by immersing themselves in a devotion to Mary for the next year.

Little could they have dreamed of a worldwide pandemic, when fear and uncertainty consumed people. Suddenly, their devotion to Mary took on new meaning.

Bart Hisgen, house manager at VHH, sorts through the donations.

Originally conceived by Fr. Daniel Belanger, CSV, pastor, and with the help of a committee that included Paula and Associate Susan Surprenaut, nearly every parish group  looked for ways to embrace Mary in their work, and that included social justice.

“The whole year is coordinated to reflect our devotion to Mary,” says Associate Susan Surprenant, “and how her life continues to speak to us.”

Members of the Year of Mary Committee at St. George, including Associate Paula Wasser, third from right, and Associate Susan Surprenaut, far right