Since the fall of 2019, the Living Beyond Sunday: GPS theme has helped Saint Elizabeth parishioners strengthen our commitment to a stewardship way of life through a multi-focused campaign of Growing, Praying and Serving. At its core, Living Beyond Sunday: GPS invites the parish at large to recognize that stewardship is not just a Sunday activity, but rather a daily way of life to best utilize the gifts bestowed upon us by our Heavenly Father. "As Catholic believers, it is our responsibility to receive and nurture these gifts, and then share them abundantly with others in charity and love," says Deb Romich, who has served on the Parish Stewardship Council for a number of years.

As the council prepared to engage our parish in the third focus of the three-phase campaign (Serving), it found inspiration from Saint Teresa of Calcutta who said, "Not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love." So while serving others is a tangible way to see our faith in motion, Saint Teresa also recognizes that meaningful acts aren't always part of a large, organized effort.

Moving forward in that spirit, the Stewardship Council identified opportunities where we, as individuals, can grow in our desire to serve others during 2021. Calling or writing a note to a relative who is shut in due to COVID, donating blood, preparing a meal for someone, completing yard work for the homebound, driving someone to a doctor's appointment or participating in a business or work sponsored charity event - these are just some of the ways we may (already!) practice daily stewardship. Stewardship Council member Jo Ann McNamee encourages us not only to draw on our own personal interests but also to let prayer guide how we can individually serve others. "Our spiritual growth is just as important when it comes to stewardship," she says. "It allows service to become a natural and intuitive part of our everyday relationship with God and others."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stewardship Day of Service (SDOS) team was unable to conduct its annual day of service this spring. In response, the SDOS team designed a new program named Serving Our Community (SOC), rooted in the Stewardship Council’s focus upon the serving component of Living Beyond Sunday, to provide opportunities for our parishioners to serve others in our daily lives. “Recognizing that area agencies still have a need for volunteers, we designed a new series of service opportunities that can be completed by small family units and/or socially distant groups,” says Anne Tymon, Serving Our Community team member. The redesigned program enables parishioners to participate in service opportunities more frequently and conveniently. “Since we launched the SOC program this spring, agencies have already expressed how thrilled they are to have help again and are excited that we are able to provide support throughout the year,” says Anne.

This year, look for the Stewardship Council's suggested service ideas sprinkled throughout the weekly bulletin or via the parish's social media pages. "Not every gesture has to be profound for it to be impactful," says Deb. "If we lean on the Holy Spirit--our spiritual GPS--to guide us, we can take many of the same gifts that helped personally sustain us during a challenging year and offer them up in humble service to others."

- Amy Giampietro

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Sidebar:

Reflecting on 2020 Stewardship Service at Saint Elizabeth

Even during the pandemic, our parish community found ways to fulfill its stewardship role by adapting its service-oriented ministries to safely operate in a COVID environment. Some implemented car lines for collections/drop offs, while others moved to a Zoom-only format. By the numbers, we still accomplished a lot including:

  • 1,635 casseroles collected for the clients of St. John’s Hospice in Philadelphia
  • 287 crafted items (blankets, hats, scarfs) and 200 rosaries made (which Fr. Kevin took to Nigeria)
  • 700 Giving Tree gifts donated and distributed
  • 49 volunteers working with the Good Works Home Repair Ministry
  • $18,998.76 donated to organizations that receive assistance through our parish Poor Box collections

Get to know the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign Honorary Co-Chairs

 

More than 325 parish families have already responded with wonderful generosity to the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Capital Campaign. The campaign’s primary goal is to sustain the many ministries of Saint Elizabeth Church through 2025 and beyond. It focuses on three top priority needs: debt reduction/elimination: a restricted education fund to support the parish school and faith formation programs; and ongoing technology development & long-term main­tenance. In the end, this project is all about our parishioners and the community we serve.

Here are some thoughts from our Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Capital Campaign Honorary Co-Chairs:

Therese V Bentley

I am not one of the long- term parishioners at Saint Elizabeth, but I would like to tell you what the parish means to my family. It starts with my parents, who moved here from California in 2002. Their transition was difficult, having left family and friends, but they found a wonderful community at Saint Elizabeth.  Participation in the Senior Adult Ministry and Bible studies provided them with support and fellowship. 

I was so thankful that my parents were happy in their new parish. When I attended Mass with them, I felt a spirit of caring and welcome, especially from Father Mullin. My husband Barry and I officially joined the parish in 2017. It has been a wonderful move.

I’m happy to be an Honorary Co-Chairperson for the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign. Reaching the financial goal of the campaign will allow Saint Elizabeth to support growth in faith among our children and adult parishioners. I am grateful for the compassion and community spirit at our parish and hope to see it continue well into the future.

Mike and Mary Ann Hughes

We are very fortunate to have been part of Saint Elizabeth Parish since its inception. In these days of frequent mobility, only a few practicing Catholics are afforded such a unique opportunity. We remember with a smile our Sunday Masses at the Lionville Middle School gymnasium, or as it was affectionately called “Our Lady of Lionville”, and now reflect with pride the faith community that is Saint Elizabeth today. To us it is just that, a wonderful faith community.  

Our involvement in the parish over 20 years has led us into the paths of so many wonderful, loving and caring people. When mom passed away last year we were blessed to receive sympathy cards from family and friends, but we were taken aback by the large number of cards and words of condolence from our Saint Elizabeth family.  Many came from folks we did not even know that well.  What a wonderful example of the deep friendships our faith community at Saint Elizabeth holds for us.

Simply, we are committed to the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign so that our parish can ensure its financial health in future years and continue the work of stewardship we started many years ago. We are doing it for those who will come after us.

Joe and Holly Ippolito

We are blessed to be original members (from the “folding chair club”!) of Saint Elizabeth.  Our son was a student in the first kindergarten class at Saint Elizabeth Parish School. Through the years he received an excellent and well-rounded education for which we are most grateful.  

We participated in the prior campaigns to offer our stewardship and enjoyed the opportunity to meet many families we may not have otherwise had the pleasure to know. It is important to us that our parish continues to offer a faith-based education for our children and by retiring debt we will also assure our parish’s financial stability and vibrancy into the future. To know our generation will offer families who come after us the special spiritual gift of Saint Elizabeth Church is worth the time and effort it takes to preserve it for many years to come!

Mary C. Mulherin

In the mid-1990s I returned to the east coast following a 24-year career in southern California. Four years later my cousin, Father Tom Mullin, was appointed the founding pastor of a new parish in Chester County. I knew immediately that God’s hand had led my return to this area.

From the beginning I observed and participated in the exciting growth of Saint Elizabeth Parish by serving in a variety of ministries and committees. Decades later we now recognize the need to invest in a number of maintenance activities in the church and education center, while simultaneously reducing our long-term financial responsibilities. With lower Mass attendance -- especially due to the ongoing pandemic -- the need for additional voluntary funding has become all too apparent.

Many of us who shared in the development of this stewardship parish will not be around 25 years from now to celebrate its 50th anniversary, but many will. I believe that our generosity in this campaign will help to maintain parish facilities for future generations.

After participating in prior capital campaigns, I am grateful to have the opportunity to pledge again and am humbled to have been selected as one of the Honorary Co-Chairpersons serving in our 25th Anniversary Campaign. I pray that future Saint Elizabeth parishioners will continue to share in the love of Jesus Christ and in the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.

  • Spirit Staff

The parental blessing within the Rite of Baptism affirms that “parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of the faith.” The parish supports parents in this sacred responsibility through the Saint Elizabeth Parish School, the parish Elementary Faith Formation (EFF) Program and the parish Youth Ministry Program.  All three programs seek to help the children and young adults of our parish community on their faith journey to become life-long Catholics who embrace the gifts of the Holy Spirit and reflect the stewardship values so important to all parishioners.

Andrew Shirker, who teachers seventh and eighth grade religion classes at Saint Elizabeth Parish School, explains that his goal is to connect the life of “Jesus the Man” to the experiences of his students. By drawing connections between their lives and the stories of the Gospels, his students find ways to live their faith each day. He knows that as the teen years approach his students will face many challenging decisions. He is hopeful that they will lean on the lessons of their faith to make good choices and turn to God when they make mistakes. Andrew says, “They don't need to stand up and preach to everyone; their actions and how they treat other people will show just what their faith is all about.” He believes that guiding his students to realize they can demonstrate their faith each day by the way they live is the most important lesson they can take from his classroom.

The EFF Program provides opportunities to students who are enrolled in public schools to grow in their Catholic faith as a source of strength and comfort. Fifth grade catechist, MH Taylor, reports that despite the distance learning format used during this pandemic year she was able to engage her students in thoughtful discussions. Her goal is to make classes fun and interesting in order to “create curiosity, encourage students to regularly attend Mass and to participate as part of the Saint Elizabeth community.”  Throughout the year she provided craft supplies to engage her students’ artistic talents. One craft, a decorative monstrance, helped emphasize the importance and beauty of Adoration.  Her Zoom sessions sometimes featured guest speakers, like Deacon Barry or Father Kevin. Each class was focused on how to provide students with a different perspective on their faith and how to help them grow in their faith.

The Youth Ministry Program provides a safe and supportive place for students in grades seven through twelve to explore and practice their faith.  Our Parish Youth Ministry Coordinator, Megan Carey, focuses program activities on three areas: stewardship, discipleship and spirituality. Agape Latte Saturdays, where the students attend the Vigil Mass and then gather for snacks and discussion afterward, provide a chance for the high schoolers to talk about scripture, learn about prayer and make their faith their own. One recent discussion focused on Psalm 23 and was especially enjoyable and engaging for the youth. Partnering with other ministries in the parish, Megan’s goal is “to show the kids the many ways parishioners can participate as part of the Saint Elizabeth community.”  During this year the Youth Ministry Program has worked together with the Knights of Columbus, the Family Life Ministry Team and the Crafting Hands Ministry to assemble toiletry bags for Saint John’s Hospice, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless in Kensington and provide hand-made Christmas cards to Father Kevin to send to children in Nigeria.

One benefit from all of these programs is that they spill over into family faith life as well. Of course, the biggest gift that comes from the work these teachers, catechists and ministers do is giving a foundation of faith that will guide our children and young adults for years to come. We are all grateful for their dedicated service.

  • Elizabeth Kazanjian

For the past five years the Shannon family has called Chester Springs (and by extension, Saint Elizabeth Parish) their home. This is now the 18th place that Tim and Mia Shannon have called home in their 34 years of marriage! They are the youngest children from two military families and are accustomed to frequent family moves.

Mia and Tim started dating during high school in Orlando, Florida and both went on to attend the University of Central Florida. They were married right after graduating from college in 1987 and their journey together around the country began. “Some moves were for family reasons, some for work and some because we like change,” they explained.

The Shannons have four children. Their twins, Tyler and Samantha, are 31 years old. Tyler graduated from North Carolina State University and was recently accepted into law school. He lives with his wife, Nicole, in Alburgh, Vermont. Samantha has a Master’s degree from the University of Colorado and is a teacher in Durham, North Carolina.

They also have two teenage boys who are currently attending Downingtown East High School. Zachary “Zack,” age 16, is a sophomore and Luke, age 15, is a freshman. They are both actively involved in the parish Youth Ministry Program and enjoy all of the activities.

Tim and Mia have been very involved in parish life since they arrived in our area. Mia attended the RCIA program and was welcomed into the full communion of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in March 2018. She now offers her stewardship service at the narthex hospitality desk before and after weekend Masses, to the Elementary Faith Formation Program and the 25th Anniversary Capital Campaign committee. Tim is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, has served as a catechist and is a member of the Men’s Spirituality group.

“We also volunteer our time within the parish on an ad hoc basis as opportunities arise,” they said. “Having moved many times, volunteering with the parish has proven to be a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and engage within the parish community, all while making very good friends.”

When asked about the best part of offering their stewardship service, Tim and Mia answered that they believe that church is not defined by a building or structure, “Saint Elizabeth is defined and characterized by its staff and its parishioners. We like to engage, interact and contribute. It’s our small way to help the parish community evolve and prosper,” they said.

We at Saint Elizabeth are happy to have the Shannon family here on this stop in their journey and hope it will be an extended stay!

-Sara Richardson

Despite the many obstacles brought forth by the pandemic, Saint Elizabeth Parish School was proud to be able to uphold many of their annual traditions throughout the past school year. Students attended school in-person for the entire year, with only three weeks of virtual instruction due to quarantine issues.

“Not that I would look forward to doing this again, but this experience has reinforced that when the student body, faculty and parents all work together as a team, we can make things happen,” said Principal Dr. Diane Greco. “Our students were fortunate to have the opportunity to be with each other in person, which I feel created a new appreciation for school and an improved work ethic.”

While many schools around the country were forced to halt their traditional non-academic activities, staff and students at Saint Elizabeth Parish School worked to keep most of them in place. “Wherever there was a work-around, we tried our best to do it,” said Dr. Greco. “We had to change the format of many of the activities, but we made sure they were inclusive events in which all students could participate.”

These traditions included a virtual Back to School night, the annual kickball tournament, the installation Mass for the National Junior Honor Society, a virtual Christmas concert, Catholic Schools Week, a school-wide pizza bingo event, the distribution of ashes on Ash Wednesday.  The parish school children in grades two and seven participated in the parish celebrations of First Holy Communion and Confirmation this spring, too.

“We held our annual school-wide pizza bingo and realized the format change was actually very positive. In lieu of a sold-out crowd when this event was held in the evening, all students were able to participate since we held it during school via the PA system. The gym was filled with prizes and students from grade 8 were stationed at each classroom door helping to run the games. It turned out to be such a fun event,” added Dr. Greco. “Our Student Council and National Junior Honor Society remained active so that all grades participated in Christmas projects as well as service projects. The Yearbook committee remained in full swing and all of our students have a yearbook to commemorate the school year.”

She went on to say, “The most meaningful event was being able to present the Living Stations of the Cross, which is a big tradition. This was a milestone because we filled the entire church with students socially-distanced and masked. We had only four practices due to a 14 day quarantine of the eighth grade, but the students executed everything perfectly. I was so proud of them. This wasn't a show or performance; it was a truly prayerful service. The older students were aware that they were demonstrating the Passion of Jesus for the younger students during this very moving event and they did it so well. It was such a hopeful celebration.”

In conclusion Dr. Greco remarked, “Although there were many challenges a great team spirit was built along the way. We had 60 people, between staff members and volunteers, who worked hard to keep the school going this year. Teachers and substitute teachers really stepped up and helped make things happen for our students, especially when fellow teachers were forced to quarantine. The care and support our entire school community put forth was very heartwarming. Being constantly vigilant is emotionally challenging but everyone recognized that the only way to make things work was to work together.”

Students and staff at Saint Elizabeth Parish School have also curated a book entitled, “The Year without Basketball Nets” which includes each student's reflections on the historical 2020-2021 school year!

  • Julia Krumenacker

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