Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Is This On Your Religious Bucket List?

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A post from our President and CEO, Msgr. John Enzler, on Holy Week 
In my current role with Catholic Charities, I often write about service to the poor and the many blessings it provides to not just to those who are served but also to those who do the serving. This time, I’d like to focus on serving yourself, especially your prayerfulness and spiritual journey. Holy Week presents us with a unique opportunity.

As a priest, I am blessed to attend at least one retreat a year. This is true for my fellow priests, many religious and lay people as well. At the same time, I know many others who have difficulty finding time for a retreat because of what’s going on in their lives. I encourage them – and all of us – to make Holy Week our own personal retreat.

This means participating in the liturgies of Holy Week, which allow us to experience the Church in its fullness, celebrating these holiest of days and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. If you’ve never done this before, I highly encourage you to consider it for this year. 

Experiencing Holy Week should be on everyone’s religious bucket list, and once you’ve done it, you’ll want to do it again.

Throughout these liturgies, the idea of procession – or journey – comes to mind:

  • Palm Sunday: We process with the palms into the church as Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem.
  • Holy Thursday: Many people process to have their feet washed as Jesus did for his disciples, and many also process as the priest removes the Blessed Sacrament from the church to the altar of repose, where it will remain until the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.
  • Good Friday: We process through Stations of the Cross and to venerate the cross.
  • Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil: The light of Christ returns with the resurrection, and we begin with a newly lit fire outside of the church and process inside with candles.

Holy Week is a gift, a chance to truly walk with the Lord on his journey as he walks daily with us on ours. It is an opportunity to better understand the depth of his love and sacrifice, which can only draw us closer. And it is a chance to finish Lent strong, whether or not it has gone as you had hoped up to this point. With God, we always get another chance.

I wish you a blessed Triduum and joyous Easter. If you have a chance to make it your own personal retreat, you will join Peter in his exuberance at the Transfiguration and say, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” (Matthew 17:4)

Happy Easter!

Msgr. John Enzler

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Introducing. . .The Enzler Society

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Guest post from Kristen and Stephen Conley, Enzler Society Executive Committee Co-Chairs

We hope the mission of The Enzler Society is evident throughout this first blog post of ours, as we know it will be in April at the Catholic Charities’ Gala After Party.

Father John Enzler’s original concept behind “Young Professionals for Catholic Charities” was simple: to raise awareness about and add passion for Catholic Charities’ vital work among the young crowd.  While our age group (21-39) is typically trying to balance new ‘adult life’ challenges like graduating college, moving out on our own, getting married, purchasing a home for the first time, and/or starting to raise a family; hours in the day—or extra cash—are not things we always have plenty of to spare.  So, how do we share the news of Catholic Charities' great work and create simple, time—and cost-efficient—ways to give back?

Together with our fellow founding members we are working hard to figure it out.  We have recently implemented new committees which will each focus on our growing society’s goals: building our membership, generating awareness, increasing our service opportunities, and sustaining a viable budget.

Our First Service Success
The Holiday Party for the YTP residents was an 
evening of good food, conversation and gifts. 
True Christmas spirit!
We are excited to share that our very first holiday party for the Youth Transitional Program, a nine-month transitional housing program for men ages 18-24, was a huge success in December. Members donated items - from toiletries to sweatshirts to gift cards - and made sure every YTP resident had a Christmas gift to open.This is something we hope to do now for years to come.

Members brave the cold to help bag potatoes!
To kick off the Lenten season, our Service Committee organized a group of volunteers bag food at the SHARE warehouse in preparation of its monthly distribution of affordable food packages to local families. This is another project we will be looking to repeat frequently.

The Enzler Society has also committed to providing baked goods to St. Maria’s Meals one Wednesday a month for the rest of the year so that the men and women being served can enjoy homemade desserts. Our Founding Members look forward to incorporating a Cup of Joe service project into each in-person meeting we have.

After party-goers snap this photo from last year's event.
See You in April!

In the meantime, we are currently planning our biggest and best Catholic Charities’ Gala After Party to date. Our After Party Committee is busy generating buzz about the event, securing incredible raffle prizes, determining the perfect signature cocktail, late-night buffet options, and more—ensuring it will truly be a night to remember. 

We’ll plan to see you April 25th! Until then...

On behalf of each founding member, we thank you for your support in The Enzler Society. Given our namesake, we have major shoes to fill and big places to go and we look forward to gaining your participation along the way. 

Join us on Facebook and Twitter to see all the great work and great fun!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Report from the Field: Before the sun is up, breakfast served to those working hard

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Despite the recent warm weather and pending start of Spring, it was cold at 6:15 am on Friday, March 13, 2015.

Yet, there stood a group of Catholic Charities volunteers and staff, ready for the very first ever St. Maria’s Meals Breakfast Service, blue aprons on, two tents set up and hot food steaming.

You may remember St. Maria’s Meals, our beautiful new food truck we received this winter. Thanks to our new found mobility, we've been able to expand our dinner services on Wednesdays and will now be serving a hot breakfast every Friday morning at 645 University Blvd., E, Silver Spring, MD. 

It’s a parking lot where many workers gather early each day to try and find some daily manual labor.
This morning, the menu included French toast sticks, muffins, fruit cups, coffee and hot chocolate. We had more than 100 men and women come through for a free breakfast.

One gentleman spoke with one of our staff and shared that the church had helped him when he was homeless and an alcoholic. A caseworker helped him to get housing and help. He also shared feeling blessed because he was very hungry that morning and the breakfast hit the spot.

VIDEO: Father John talks about the morning: 

VOLUNTEER: St. Maria's Meals food truck will be at this Silver Spring location every week, which means we'll need early-rising volunteers to help distribute breakfasts on Friday mornings! If you or your group is interested in this service activity, please visit our volunteer webpage here.