By Ken Bresnan, Parish Outreach Liaison for Catholic Charities Des Moines, Iowa
Gifts are a marvelous manifestation of the love that you have for someone. I can’t help but think of the utter love and joy that my wife, Rita, and I felt as we picked out toys for our young children. It didn’t matter what they were, they loved them. Rita and I loved watching them on Christmas morning. That joy has never diminished but it does mutate or change as the kids grow or as your relationship's change. As teenagers, they were never happier than the year that I was recovering from my first brush with mortality, the discovery of a dead gall bladder and an extensive same day operation. Close to Christmas, Rita presented the list of prospective presents that the kids had on their wish lists (wish lists predicated on Bill Gates being their father). I looked once and said OK. Rita is still in shock. The ticket to Mexico, the base guitar, the new puppy, and the one I can’t remember, brought joy to their faces and warmth to my heart. But times do change and children grow.
And in some cases we reach another dimension of gift giving. When I was 16, I was struggling over what to get my father for Christmas. He had been and was the president of the Champaign Illinois Park District and he loved that organization. I called the park superintendent and arranged to plant a new tree in his honor. And to this day even though he has been gone for a number of years, I know that was his favorite present. When he was retired he use to walk in that park and point out to whomever was with him, HIS tree.
I mention this as a prelude to a request that I will make of you. You will have a relationship with someone or more than one that is based on joint deep love of all of God’s children. Possibly they might most enjoy knowing that you gave something in their name. At Catholic Charities here in Des Moines, our program for this type of giving is called, the “Gift of Hope” program. Gifts of 25 dollars on up are recognized by a Gift of Hope Christmas Card. Please stop and think for a moment which relative or friend would be truly grateful to know that you shared their love of “others” this time of year.
I haven’t seen that tree that I dedicated to Dad in many years and I don’t even know if it is still standing, but I do know that the thought behind it and the love it generated will last forever.
More information about giving a gift to Catholic Charities in a loved one's name this Christmas is available by clicking here.
A brief recap of No Room at the Inn 2011!
Fundraising Reception sponsored by Iowa Hospice!
Poverty Reduction sponsors R&R Realty and Bankers Trust.
350 fun, generous and compassionate attendees!
Cocktails from Splash, Coke and Iowa Beverage Systems
Hors d'oeuvres by Christiani's VIP Catering
Mayra Bañuelos & MC Antonio Bañuelos. Mary Bernabe, Karen and David Hartman & Sam Bernabe.
Poverty Simulation held Saturday Dec. 3
Participants spent the morning experiencing what it might be like trying to live a month below the poverty line ($22,000 or less for a family of four!)
Comments from participants:
“I was surprised by the chaos that is in families because of the struggle of survival.”
“Every minute of every day was very stressful.”
“I will do whatever I can to be more sensitive to those with less.”
Musical Open House sponsored by Mercy Medical Center featured 300 nativities, local choirs and live nativity
Hundreds of people were touched by the sights and sounds of Christmas during the 8th annual No Room at the Inn Open house. School choirs performed and people of all ages enjoyed the live nativity scene hosted by St. Francis Knights of Columbus.
Los Niños de Tepeyac Dancers, a young latino dance group perform at No Room at the Inn
Alaina Hoover, age 3, listens to Bishop Richard Pates read the Christmas during No Room at the Inn
Catholic Charities thanks everyone who participated in this years event. Because of all of you, we are one step closer to reducing poverty... with DIGNITY!
By Ken Bresnan, Parish Outreach Liaison
I am excited. The Christmas season is here. And today I am full of the Christmas carol “Do you hear what I hear”.
I have always loved that lyric as well as the companion lyric, “Do you see what I see.” If I sang that today, you wouldn’t be able to "see or hear" what I can, but you can on Sunday, from 1-5 at the Catholic Pastoral Center in downtown Des Moines during Catholic Charities 7th annual “No Room at the Inn” Musical Open House.
What can you hear on Sunday? Performances by both the St. Francis of Assisi, Holy Family and the Holy Trinity school choirs, the Ankeny community chorus (all 80 members strong) the St. Boniface Music Ministers and also a very special group, Los Niños del Tepeyac, a Mexican cultural youth dance group.
So, as the song says, we will definitely hear “a song, a song, high above the trees from voices as big as the sea.”
And between the performances we will be treated to both Bishop Pates and Bishop Charron reading the Christmas story.
What can you see on Sunday? Over 300 nativity sets! These nativities have been pouring in over the last few days and I have seen various ones made out of wood, plaster, porcelain, glass, plastic, china and a host of other materials. I have seen sets from Mexico, El Salvador, Japan, Africa, Germany, Israel, Switzerland, Columbia, Scandinavia, Australia and several other countries along with a healthy group from here in the United States. I have seen a Charlie Brown themed set and a set using an igloo for the stable. I have seen some sets with figures under 3” tall and some over 12’’ tall. I have seen goats and camels, cows and sheep, polar bears, one in a snow globe and several in picture form. All are unique. All deliver the message that even for Jesus there was no room at the inn. I marvel as I walk around and see all of the different sets how unique the various baby Jesus are. They truly reflect the skill, the heritage and the faith of the artesian that made them.
And this year, for the first time, we have 8 student-made nativities from the Catholic Schools in the area. They are marvelous. You will love them (and you can even bid on them in a silent auction.)
My experience in walking around the exhibit this morning make me think of the last stanza of the song:
“Listen to what I say
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and Light
He will bring us goodness and light.”
We hope you will join us,
Choir Schedule for No Room at the Inn - Dec. 4, 2011
1:00 to 1:25 p.m. Ankeny Community Chorus
1:35 to 1:55 p.m. St. Francis of Assisi Children’s Choir and Middle School Music Ministry
2:05 to 2:25 p.m. Bishop Richard Pates, The Christmas story
2:35 to 2:55 p.m. Holy Trinity Catholic School Choir
3:05 to 3:25 p.m. Los Niños del Tepeyac
3:35 to 4:00 p.m. Bishop Charron, The Christmas story
4:10 to 4:30 p.m. St. Boniface Music Ministers
4:40 to 5:00 p.m. Holy Family School Choir