Outreach Ministries

Icon for Outreach ministries

Every Christian and church are called to help others in need. Examples include serving the poor, homeless, sick, and imprisoned. Outreach ministries provide opportunities for us to mobilize and inspire our capacity to serve. Parishes support and celebrate outreach ministries in many different ways. This section describes how we minister to those in need at St. John’s and beyond.

Afghan Family Support

St. John’s is assisting a family from Afghanistan that has recently moved to our area. Read more »

Contact: Kathy Gross, haitikathy@gmail.com

Beechfield Elementary-Middle School (EMS)

Beechfield EMS is a large elementary-middle school in Baltimore City. St. John’s has had a partnership with the school for over 25 years. Last year, our volunteers from St. John’s assisted at their Fall Fest to raise money for the school. Parishioners have also shared children’s books with classes and holiday gifts with families in need.

In the past, parishioners have helped with fun activities to reward students with perfect or near perfect school attendance, and certificates for good attendance and achievement. They have also helped raise scholarship money for field trips for students in need, and help run evenings for families to learn about activities to improve literacy and STEM skills. In addition, St. John’s has assisted other city schools with books, games and materials for bilingual students and school supplies. We welcome new volunteers interested in becoming involved with this wonderful ministry to teachers and children.

Contact: Marge Trenkle, m.trenkle@verizon.net or 410-788-2185

Creating Friendships for Peace, Inc.

Creating Friendships for Peace Inc. (formerly Cyprus Friendship Program) is one of St. John’s earliest outreach programs that is still ongoing. Parishioners host summer visits of teens coming from areas of the world where there is conflict. A pair of teens from both sides of the conflict stay together with a host family with the hope of building new friendships and understanding. CFP is a non-profit with the goal of building friendships, mutual respect, and understanding to promote peace among tomorrow’s leaders. Over the years, we have welcomed teens from Northern Ireland, Israel/Palestine, and Cyprus. See also: friendships4peace.org

We temporarily suspended activities in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic, and will resume when it is safe to do so.

Contact: Tom McCarthy, gtrmccarthym@gmail.com

Diversity and Inclusion Ministry

This ministry envisions a parish where all know they are accepted, valued and encouraged to participate in Christian community, and a parish that seeks to be enriched by the full inclusion of all cultures, traditions and backgrounds. We are committed to developing programs to reflect the importance of diversity and encourage full participation from parishioners of all cultures and social backgrounds, to foster outreach, fellowship, and respect for all allowing parishioners to further realize the full benefit of a diverse parish community.

Previously, we participated in the Annual Pentecost Mass and celebration by having a bilingual Mass, offertory prayers, and Mass hymns said and sung in different languages. We have organized a multicultural café, which featured displays, presentations, and cuisine from around the world. We have had workshops on topics that touch on sensitive issues regarding the differences among us. Our ministry hosts an Annual Retreat for the parish. We also take on joint projects with other ministries in the parish. Read more »

Contact: Ulumma Onyewu, uabii@yahoo.com

Elizabeth House Soup Kitchen

Our parishioners make casseroles for the Elizabeth House Soup Kitchen in Laurel, Maryland. We also serve dinners at Elizabeth House, an all-volunteer food pantry and soup kitchen.

Contact: Susan Defibaugh, susankdefibaugh@gmail.com

Embracing Global Solidarity

Over the past ten or more years, this group has organized many information sessions about topics of global concern, including the Palestinian question, immigration, global aid, and human trafficking. We organized parish-wide signing of letters to our Congressional representatives and senators on issues affecting the global poor, including the Farm Bill, Food for Peace, and related issues. We hand delivered letters to members of Congress, met with congressional staffers on several issues, and have participated in marches in Washington, DC in support of Darfur, immigration rights, etc.

Our annual activities include Alternative Giving at Christmas time in support of five small-scale charities in the global community. We are currently engaged in advocacy efforts to support poor countries struggling with COVID-19 in addition to their other problems.

Contact: Sarah Lutterodt, sarahlutterodt@gmail.com

Food Bank

St. John’s collects donations of non-perishable food and personal hygiene products at the WLIFC on an on-going basis. We have collection bins outside of the WLIFC office and in the WLIFC lobby at all in-person Masses. Jointly, SJERC and St. John United parishioners donated 56,632 items between June 2020 and June 2021. This represents a very generous and compassionate 10X increase over pre-pandemic donations. Columbia Community Care, a nonprofit food pantry that serves hundreds of local families each week, distributes our donated food and hygiene items. The WLIFC also hosts one of the three pop-up pantries sponsored by Columbia Community Care. Click here for Food Donations Request List

Contact: Bud Hunt, hunt-family1@comcast.net

Gift of Peace Ministry

Part of a worldwide campaign to transform the dying part of human experience, this ministry provides information, guidance, and support for our parishioners and their loved ones so that wishes for end-of-life care may be expressed and respected. With grant funding support from The Horizon Foundation, this past year we developed an instructional video to help families think through their preferences for care, talk about them with loved ones, and name a Health Care Agent. Videos of previous workshop sessions featuring clergy, lawyers, hospice workers, funeral directors and others are available on the parish website and in the interfaith library at WLIFC. Read more »

Contact: Audrey Marsh, GiftOfPeace@sjerc.org

Give it a Second Life Collection

An annual Autumn collection of bikes, sewing machines, musical instruments and other specific items. The items, after being repaired by the receiving organization, are distributed to needy families in Baltimore, as well as Africa and Latin America. Announcements will appear in the church bulletin as to the date and items collected for that year.

We temporarily suspended activities in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic, and will resume when it is safe to do so.

Contact: Tom McCarthy, gtrmccarthym@gmail.com

Green Team

The Green Team provides education on environmental threats and potential solutions affecting Maryland, our nation, and the world. We motivate and educate our parishioners and local community to a deeper reverence and respect for God’s gift of creation. We are engaged in activities related to environmental challenges including climate change in our backyards, in our parish, and in our community, and taking action on issues of environmental justice.

Undeterred by the pandemic (2020-21), we rejuvenated and maintained the WLIFC rain garden, stenciled storm drains, co-hosted an online viewing of the film “The Story of Plastic” and panel discussion with local environmental leaders, held a “Plastic Fast” during Lent with weekly tips on how to change personal habits to reduce our use of plastics, held a Laudato Si Study Group, supported other congregations in neighbor-hood clean-ups, and worked with WLIFC Board on ways to “green up” our facility.

Contact: Marti Simpson, martipsimpson@gmail.com

Lay Volunteer Service Corps

The St. John Lay Volunteer Service Corps is a faith-centered group sharing skills, talents, and life experiences to help meet the needs of people in our community who are poor, lonely, or otherwise in need of a helping hand. This new ministry is modeled after Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps, and will include: direct service activities several hours a week, monthly spiritual activities, and an annual retreat. The ministry is open to parishioners over age 60 who are single, widowed or divorced.

Contact: Mary Pat Donelan, marypatd@verizon.net or 410-730-9294

Marriage Encounter

Marriage Encounter (ME) is a movement in the Catholic church designed to enrich and strengthen marriages. Married couples of all faiths are invited to weekend faith-based experiences to get away from their usual routine to focus on their marriage. Weekends usually take place in retreat houses or hotels, and are also offered as a non-residence experience where couples return to their homes each evening from the church or meeting place where the presentations are given. And, a virtual experience is now being offered.

Contact: Mary Rekus, marymd66@gmail.com

Mental Health Ministry

Work began on our new Mental Health Ministry with the sponsorship of a Mental Health Summit in fall 2019 in cooperation with the Howard County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health. Shortly thereafter, The Horizon Foundation awarded the parish a grant to fund this new initiative. The important work of supporting, not treating, those with mental illness and those who care for them has been delayed due to the pandemic. Volunteers will be needed once when we are able to move forward.

Contact: Deacon Paul Gifford, paul.gifford@sjerc.org

Our Daily Bread Casserole Project

This project provides casseroles once every month to Catholic Charities’ Our Daily Bread dining center in Baltimore for the homeless and other needy persons. A six-person steering committee supervises the project, which is comprised of over 200 volunteer home cooks, and four two-person teams deliver the casseroles. Parishioners do not need to be enrolled in the project to contribute. Simply watch for announcements in the church bulletin, collect the recipe and empty pan after Mass, prepare the meal, and deliver your frozen casseroles according to the schedule published each month. Read more »

Contact: Jeanette Jenkins, sjodb12@yahoo.com

Parish Nurse Ministry

Our parish nurses offer blood pressure screening every second Sunday of the month after Masses at WLIFC. We conduct about 20 to 30 screenings each month, and also provide instructional materials and needed support. This is an especially valuable service to those without insurance.

Contact: Mary Bielefeld, mebielefeld10@gmail.com

Prison Healing Community

Pope Francis encouraged us to go to the fringes and we will be changed. Our prison ministers visit Catholic inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup on Tuesday and Saturday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00pm. On Tuesday, a Mass is celebrated or a Communion service is held. On Saturdays, a Bible study class is conducted with written materials and videos.

Family members of the incarcerated are also assisted by this ministry as they deal with their plight, and our assistance is offered to returning citizens in need of support during their transition. This ministry advocates for prison reform and for programs to help the men, and women, after release. Meeting prisoners teaches you that they are just like us except they made some bad decisions. This ministry especially welcomes Spanish-speaking volunteers.

Contact: Deacon Paul Gifford, paul.gifford@sjerc.org

Racial Justice Committee

The recently-established Racial Justice Committee is comprised of members of the Social Justice Ministry Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Grounded in Catholic Social Teaching, the Committee’s purpose is to encourage parishioners to increase awareness of past and current injustices faced by the Black community.

The Racial Justice Committee offers volunteer opportunities that engage and inform the parish community through education, advocacy and dialogue. This committee also advises Pastor Bowen and church leadership on various issues affecting our community. Please join us on the fourth Tuesday of the month, September-May at 6:30pm in Zoom. Read more »

Contact: Patty Dugan Mucci, pattydugan@hotmail.com or 410-884-7939

Resurrection Ministry

The Resurrection Ministry is an outreach ministry to families who wish to have a funeral Mass or memorial service at St. John’s. The parish office receives the call from the family and determines with them the date, time and priest availability for the Mass or memorial service. Volunteers are notified by the parish office of the date and time, and volunteers then respond to the office with their availability. Volunteers serve in a variety of ways: meet with the family to plan the Mass or worship service and serve as ushers, sacristans, and eucharistic ministers.

Contact: Eileen Kiefer, eileenmaykiefer@gmail.com

Senior Alliance Committee

In 2020, our Pastoral Council formed a new ministry – the Senior Alliance Committee – to provide faith-based and socialization programs that are relevant to our senior parishioners, 50 and older. Our parish serves seniors who attend Masses at the Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills Interfaith Centers and those in assisted living, nursing facilities, and group homes, as well as the homebound. The Senior Alliance Committee created a survey to better understand the dynamics of our senior community and their needs, and organized a process to call our seniors 65 and older during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic to offer spiritual and emotional support, as well as physical support, to the extent that our parish could.

Contact: L. Ann Benjamin, labenjamin@verizon.net

Sister Parish Partnership with St. Bernardine’s Parish

St. John’s has been in a partnership as sister parishes with St. Bernardine’s Parish in Baltimore for the last couple of years. A Steering Committee of about ten members from both parishes meets routinely to discuss and plan activities to foster this relationship. The primary focus of the Committee has been to stay connected, recruit more members, and advance the relationship between both parishes.

Recent activities were a joint picnic and Mass at St. John’s with music by St. Bernardine’s choir and the annual MLK Peace Walk. Possible future activities include another picnic, a choir exchange, a joint ministry fair, a joint youth activity, a book club where social justice issues can be discussed. The Steering Committee is seeking additional members. Read more »

Contact: Evelyne Mbandi, embandi@hotmail.com

Social Justice Ministry Committee

This committee’s mission is to inform, inspire, and invite the parish to consider and act on local and global issues of social justice and to support the empowerment of the oppressed and disenfranchised. This year, we held a JustFaith Phase 1 Program, incorporated information about Catholic social teaching in bulletin inserts and prayers, planned an Advent giving guide with resources for prayer and social justice actions, sent members to the Archdiocesan social ministry convocation, and began planning for a St. John’s Green Team.

The committee also supported many other groups that work for social justice and empowerment including Embracing Global Solidarity, Prison Ministry, the Give it a Second Life Collection, Creating Friendships for Peace, partnerships with Beechfield Elementary-Middle School as well as the casserole projects for Our Daily Bread and Elizabeth House Soup Kitchen, and Visitations at Spring Grove Hospital.

Contact: Marge Trenkle, m.trenkle@verizon.net or Kathy Marucci, kam789@verizon.net

Spring Grove Hospital Center Visitation

Once a month, a group of our parishioners visits Spring Grove Psychiatric Center and organizes a game of BINGO and brings snacks and game prizes to the residents. Spring Grove Hospital Center in Catonsville provides inpatient psychiatric services to adults and adolescents, as well as residential psychiatric services to adults. Our purpose is to bring smiles and provide a distraction and entertainment and socialization. Donations of shampoo, conditioners, body wash, and lotions as well as soaps, toothpastes, and deodorants are distributed to the patients and are very much appreciated. Our ministry visits Spring Grove the first Tuesday of every month.

Contact: Renessa Tuason, renessatuason@gmail.com

Visitation Ministries

Eucharistic Ministers from St. John (and other Howard County parishes) share communion and prayers. Our Eucharistic Ministers travel to Howard County General Hospital, Lorien Nursing Home, and other senior residences to offer communion and prayer to Catholic patients and residents. Since March 2020, we have been unable to perform this ministry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but look forward to resuming when it is safe to do so. Eucharistic Ministers also share communion and prayer with homebound parishioners, who are ill and can’t leave their residence. Parishioners should contact SJERC parish office to request a Communion visit.

Contact for Hospital/Nursing Home Visitation: Linda Raudenbush, lr78@georgetown.edu or 410-381-2747
Contact for Home Visitation: Ann Hale, amchale12@icloud.com

Please note: The Archdiocese of Baltimore requires all parish volunteers to be VIRTUS certified. Please contact the parish office for details.

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