It’s No Secret Santa,
Manuel Casias, vice president of development for St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho, NM, really believes that “Every child deserves a little joy, a toy!”
And that is exactly what is going to happen for many children this year, thanks to St. Felix Pantry and its annual St. Felix Pantry Christmas store. The Christmas Store provides moms and dads with the opportunity to purchase gifts for their children that they might not otherwise be able to purchase on their own.
“Christmas store is successful because of many generous donations that come to the Pantry from people all over the country,” Casias said. He added, “We still have a few mittens left over from last year that were donated by the Felician Sisters from Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent in Buffalo, New York.”
“Toys, coats for kids, and other items are donated all year long for this one very special festive and most humbling event called Christmas Store,” explained Casias. Pantry volunteers, including many Felician Sisters, lend a hand during the week, helping families navigate through a mountain of toys.
“We never tell the parents what to select for their child. We create a fun shopping experience for all our clients. This is a wonderful example of everyone involved demonstrating respect for human dignity.”
Madonna University Honors Felician Sisters
The noon liturgy ended, and guests made their way to Madonna University’s dining area for the Deo Gratias Celebration of Appreciation Brunch.
A freshman majoring in voice entertained the guests with two Christmas carols. Following the delicious brunch, the University honored the Felician Sisters in a special way on the occasion of their 140th anniversary in North America.
Honorees and guests listened attentively as SM Christopher Moore, provincial minister, presented the history of the Felician Sisters who left their home in Poland and traveled to America in 1874.
Following the address, benefactors were acknowledged for helping Madonna reach its fundraising goals. On behalf of all the sisters of Our Lady of Hope Province for continued generous support for scholarships for Madonna students, Sister Christopher accepted a crystal box for the Ambassador Award for continued annual giving; a plaque featuring the picture of the stained glass window in the Franciscan Center, and a certificate for the Mother Mary DeSales Lifetime Giving Award; a dozen roses; and a handmade afghan.
Felician Sisters from Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Livonia as well as local convents thanked Sister Christopher and councilors S Nancy Marie Jamroz, vicar, and S MaryAnne Olekszyk, for accepting this honor on behalf of the Felician Sisters.
At the closing of the Deo Gratias Celebration of Appreciation Brunch on Sunday, December 7, honorees and guests were enjoyably surprised at the unveiling of a beautiful oil painting of Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, presented by Ray Okonski for her retirement.
Sister Rose Marie will retire in June, 2015, as Madonna’s 16th President, and the delightful portrait will be a reminder of her many accomplishments over the years.
The ministry of feeding the hungry requires a lot of help from many people, especially during the holidays.
St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho, NM, is proud to say that it has more than 110 volunteers who are the backbone of the organization. Each volunteer has her/his own personal reasons for devoting more than six hours of unpaid work weekly. Combined, Pantry volunteers contribute nearly 25,000 hours a year, and during the holidays, that number grows.
People want to give back and be part of something that is meaningful and there is absolutely no age requirement. Actually, of all the volunteers who showed up during the St. Felix Pantry Community Thanksgiving dinner, almost half of them were young women and men
St. Felix Pantry partners with friend Julian Garza, owner of the local McDonald’s, to feed hundreds in Rio Rancho and has supported the Pantry for 21 years.
Manuel Casias, vice president of development, said, jokingly, “That requires a lot of turkeys and I am not just talking turkey.” Besides turkey, guests were served dressing and all the trimmings.
Manuel said that all of the volunteers, as well as those who came to observe the festivities, were very happy and appreciative of the opportunity to participate in this ongoing tradition to provide a meal to those in need.