Felicians in Kingstree

Sights and Sounds of Christmas in Kingstree, South Carolina
Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit.  –Charles Dickens
 
PREPARING. . . homemade decorations for the tree, outdoor Nativity for passers-by, props for the Nativity drama, food from food drives all over the state of South Carolina, 340 children’s jackets from the South Carolina Knights of Columbus, pillows, towels, and toiletries for residents of a boarding house from benefactors and area churches, laundry baskets filled with household items for the elderly
SM Jacqueline Benbenek
From L: SM Carol Piskor, SM Johnna Ciezobka, and 
SM Jacqueline Benbenek
RECEIVING. . . hats, glove sets, books, LCR games, toys, boxes of cereal, candy canes, Oreos, popcorn, McDonald’s gift cards, sweatshirts, body wash, crosses with Nativity scene from benefactors near and far including wives of Knights of Columbus; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School, Coraopolis, PA; St. Andrew Church, Myrtle Beach, SC; Prince of Peace, Taylors, SC, and many individual benefactors
SM Jacqueline Benbenek
PERFORMING . . . hand bells, jingle bells, singers, dancers, Santa, elves and the “holy story”; S Susanne read the Gospel of the Nativity on the steps of the courthouse as part of the town’s celebration, children gift the sisters with their program
At L: SM Johnna Ciezobka and SM Carol Piskor; 
at R: SM Jacqueline Benbenek
CELEBRATING . . . delights of food at the party sponsored by Kingstree United Methodist Church and Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, salad (lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes) made from the Children’s Winter Garden, the 25th anniversary gift from the Felician Sisters of North America; opening gifts from the sisters, enjoying a magic show and Santa, too.
From L: SM Jacqueline Benbenek, SM Carol Piskor, 
SM Susanne Dziedzic
Like Wise Men laying presents before the Baby, kindness begot this feast. And Jesus is the cause of it all. Thank you for 25 years of prayers and support.
May each Christmas find us more and more like Him. . .more simple, more humble,
more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of God. 
John Henry Cardinal Newman
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Felician Sisters and company …

Felician Sisters, associates, and Madonna University faculty and staff brought Christmas joy to Cabrini Clinic for the Poor patients, families, and local neighbors at Holy Trinity School in Detroit, MI, on Tuesday, December  13.
Working in the kitchen

For more than 25 years,

S Victoria Marie Indyk has coordinated this annual event. This year, more than 20 volunteers wrapped presents and assisted at this special event to provide a live Nativity play, sing Christmas carols, serve a delicious spaghetti dinner, and help Santa to distribute presents to everyone.
Serving up the spaghetti

The festive spirit was alive with excitement as children and adults admired small Christmas toys and decorations on the tables that were donated for the party. As the volunteers dressed for the Nativity play, several young girls asked to be “angels” and a young boy was dressed to be the Drummer Boy.

At the end of the Nativity play, children from the audience were invited to come up and sit by Baby Jesus as everyone sang Christmas carols honoring Jesus on His birthday. Proud parents eagerly took pictures of the beautiful Nativity scene surrounded by their young children.
Shiranthi DeSilva leading the singing

Volunteers then served the participants homemade chicken soup made by Sister Victoria along with delicious spaghetti, salad, rolls, and dessert. Filled to the brim, everyone then waited for Santa to arrive.

Each person received a specially marked shopping bag that contained wrapped Christmas gifts of gloves, scarves, hats, hygiene kits, toys, clothes, candy, and age-appropriate presents. Presents for the men had been donated through St. Sabina’s Parish that had a “Giving Tree” as their special parish mission.
At the end, presents that were left over were given to local shelters and needy families in the downtown Detroit area.

He sat quietly and unassumingly

by Manuel Casias

He sat quietly and unassumingly. Although he had a limited vocabulary, his shivers on one of the coldest days of the year spoke volumes.

A wandering little pilgrim at St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho, NM, named Juanito was cold, and the thin wind-breaker he was wearing was hardly sufficient enough to keep him warm. I just happened to walk by when I noticed him and immediately called out. “Who does this child belong to?” I asked. His mother, who spoke broken English, told me that he was her little boy. I did not ask if he had another coat at home; rather, I simply smiled and told her that a coat had just come in for little Juanito and we were waiting for him to come in and get it. Confused and surprised, Juanito’s mom said, with incredible humility, Gracias.

This story is not uncommon at St. Felix Pantry where clothing is also provided to many families in need. In fact, just as many families who get food weekly from the Pantry also receive much-needed clothing from the Pantry’s clothing bank. From my perspective, it is hard to imagine little Juanito and other children like him in our neighborhood being cold, especially if they live just down the street from the Pantry.

This event reminded me of one of New Mexico’s oldest stories about the Santo Nino De Atocha (the infant child of Prague, the wandering little pilgrim) who sits in an old historic pilgrimage site in Northern New Mexico. Throughout the years, people from all over this great state have brought the small statue of Jesus shoes, coats, and a variety of things to wear as he goes out into New Mexico’s countryside performing miracles nightly. In ministry, we often tell people to accept strangers as though they were friends. You never know when Jesus will pay a visit. Warm and smiling, the wandering little pilgrim Juanito is indeed a new friend of Felix.

Was it Jesus visiting the Pantry’s clothing bank, cold, shivering, and hoping that we would tend to his needs? We will never know. What we do know is that St. Felix Pantry reaches out to all of its neighbors, big and small, during their neediest moments.

For Juanito, he spent the rest of that day warm and well-fed as all children should during these cold winter days. This is the hope that St. Felix provides to individuals like Juanito and families in need throughout the neighborhoods it serves all year long. The miracle provided us this day was the assurance and confirmation that St. Felix Pantry continues to respond with compassion and the work we do every day has sacred purpose.
Annually, St. Felix Pantry makes clothing available to nearly 6,000 families whose households range from one member to several members where many of them are children. Just recently, St. Felix Pantry partnered with the Rio Rancho Baptist church, sending clothing to 60 families in Juarez, Mexico, which is approximately seven hours south of St. Felix pantry.
We serve a God without borders and boundaries. Some of the neighborhoods we serve are seven hours away.

Distribution of food and a touch of love … the Felician Way!

vvv Under the direction of SM Eliana Remiszewska and two other adult Teen Leaders from St. Turibius Parish in Chicago, IL, members of the St. Turibius Teen group worked after school to assist the St. Vincent De Paul Society.

The teens prepared packages of Easter goodies for the children, helped carry hams and food packages, and assisted in setting up Felician Hall in preparation for the food distribution to the needy.

The teens were also on hand to help families carry food and kept the children busy with art projects as they waited their turn to receive treats from the Easter Bunny.

Before the food distribution began, the teens joined hands in a circle with members of the St. Vincent De Paul Society to pray for God’s blessings upon all those who are in need and for all those who assist them.

nnnnnSM Francine Lagocki, SM Eunice Olbrantz, SM Barbara Ann Bosch, S Mary Beth Bromer, SM Eliana Remiszewska, members of the St. Turibius Parish’s (Chicago, IL) St. Vincent De Paul Society, gathered with other Vincentians in the parish’s Felician Hall to distribute food to needy parishioners on Tuesday, April 15.

In addition to distributing food baskets, hams, and gift certificates to the adults, the Easter Bunny provided treats for the children who came with their parents. Each child received Easter goodies and a book, and had their picture taken with the Easter Bunny.