“Hope and happiness is something we all need now,” said Kathleen Kukish of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Durham. That thought, she said, was the motivation she needed to join an Office of Faith Events (OFE) venture making greeting cards for residents confined to area convalescent homes and health care facilities. “By making cards … I can spread a little happiness to someone at this trying time. It’s the least I can do and it gives me happiness also.”
It began as a simple idea by OFE director Andrea Hoisl. Before the shelter-in-place edict from Governor Ned Lamont, she and other diocesan staff members at the Bishop Flanagan Ministry Center gathered around the lunch table one day and began making the cards for those in convalescent homes. From there it snowballed into an active ministry of 20 people around the diocese who have distributed more than 2,000 cards.
As word about the venture spread, Hoisl received calls from people across the diocese asking how they could help. Some team members design the cards, while others place a hand-written note inside, or use creative computer graphic skills. Each card contains an inspirational message of hope, or promises of prayers to remind recipients that they are not alone, nor forgotten.
The Davis Place, a nursing and rehabilitation center in Danielson, is one of many facilities that received a packet of cards and wrote back to express its gratitude. “Thank you for the beautiful homemade cards. We sincerely appreciate the thoughts and prayers. Our residents are doing well and the cards brought smiles to their faces! Thank you, stay well.”
Mary, a resident at Wadsworth Glen, Middletown, expressed similar thoughts: “Thank you for the lovely card I received. It helped to brighten my day. I have good days and bad days but your card reminded me to smile even on the bad days because God is watching over me. Thank you for your kindness. Please thank the artist who drew the lighthouse on my card; it was beautiful! I have it on my wall so I can see it from every part of my room.”
Chester resident Carol Butler helps create the cards because of her concern for the residents. “Their small piece of the world suddenly became even smaller and may have caused confusion, restlessness, depression or anxiety. It is my hope that this simple outreach on my part opens the doorway of faith to the recipient. The act of receiving a simple cheerful card can lift their mood, brighten their space, give them hope, joy, and the opportunity to share with their family the news that they received a card.”
Tony Jasko, retired athletic director at Xavier High School in Middletown, and his wife Donna, both parishioners at St. Francis Church, Middletown, are also collaborating on the project. “I was brought up and called to do this as a Catholic, but I also wanted to let others know they are thought about and cared for during this difficult time,” Tony said. “I hope the cards can put a smile on peoples’ faces and a good feeling in their hearts during this pandemic.”
His wife Donna echoed those sentiments. “Since I could not go out and do service, I am grateful to reach out through the cards to help others by providing hope, love and some joy,” she said.
By Mary-Jo McLaughlin