THEY MADE IT HAPPEN – ST. NICHOLAS PARISH AND SCHOOL, PASSAIC, NJ
This past year proved to be a challenge in many ways. As a parish community we have been Blessed through the Grace of God during these difficult days, and in thanksgiving for this blessing, once again the Giving Tree program came to be. For the 20th consecutive year, our parish has sponsored a Giving Tree project for orphans and the disabled in Ukraine, suppling each resident with warm clothing, hygiene supplies, and children’s games. This pandemic year, a food drive project closer to home was added.
Our Eastern Catholic neighbors at St Michael the Archangel Byzantine Catholic Cathedral, Passaic, have maintained a food panty for the last decade. The St. Nicholas Chapter of the League of Ukrainian Catholics (LUC), with the support of our pastor, Fr. Andriy Dudkevych, invited our members, parishioners, and school children to participate in a Giving Thanks food staples drive to benefit this pantry. This is one of several food projects that the League has sponsored over the years in support of St. Michael’s pantry and the local homeless and needy. The COVID pandemic situation has dragged on for months and the numbers of indigent in the city of Passaic has grown significantly and a great many of them are children.
Thus, the League initiated a “Calendar of Daily Giving” that was extended to the 40-day Philip Fast / Pylypywka. Participants were asked to put aside one food item daily from the list intended for the pantry throughout the Fast. The project was bolstered by the 2020 Synod of Bishops Pastoral letter urging the faithful to serve those who are closest to us and lack attention, support, and comfort – “I am among you as one who serves” (Luke 22:27). Donations were collected in the Church vestibule.
Sr. Eliane Ilnitski, SSMI, principal at St. Nicholas School, took this opportunity to help students prepare themselves for Christmas and to decorate their traditional Christmas Tree displayed in the school foyer. Their challenge – for every food donation brought in to help the local food pantry, the student placed an ornament on the school Christmas tree. The goal was to have all the ornaments on the tree and the donation boxes filled with food before Christmas Eve, and they made it happen!
The project was deemed a resounding success. When all was said and done, a pickup truck’s bed and a car trunk plus were filled with goods. Delivery to St. Michael’s pantry was made on January 6th, Eve of the Epiphany, and was met with an outpouring of thanks and blessings to all who participated from their parish volunteers and Fr. Jack Custer, pastor/administrator at St. Michael’s.
The St. Nicholas Chapter of LUC sincerely appreciates and thanks the parishioners, students and families who took part in this special project and for their generosity which truly followed the directives of our Bishops Synod – “You will be left with one thing – what you gave to the poor!”