Church building project raffle sellers Lynn Belfour, Shirley Paupanekis with Sister Carmen Catellier, S.N.J.M., fundraising at the local supermarket. Photo courtesy of Sister Carmen Catellier, S.N.J.M.
My Advent generally starts by writing this annual letter and addressing cards which do take a fair amount of time to get finished. I did think of sending it via email but knowing my own joy of receiving greeting cards gives me incentive to pursue this project. As I work on the task, I usually think of the late Oblate Father Adrien Darveau, my first missionary mentor, who was quite diligent in getting it finished even before Advent started!
Sometimes I volunteer to sit at a table at the local North Mart to sell raffle tickets. The proceeds are going to the new church building fund for Holy Cross mission which is called “Our Children’s Parish of Hope.” This fundraising is taking more time in years than many had anticipated. Various activities and donations are needed to build up a huge pile of money to get this project up and off the ground, literally.
Recently, a laptop computer was raffled off, and during the Trappers’ Festival, it was beaded moosehide gauntlets, beaded moccasins, a beaver trapper hat, and a Tim Horton’s coffeemaker.
The raffles and bingos are monitored under Cross Lake First Nations Gaming. This type of accountability requested for raffles or bingos is new on the reserve so it was a challenge to get familiar with it, but it gives excellent credibility to the fundraising.
Many rummage sales have been held over the course of the years which garner a couple of hundred dollars each time. Last year, a small fishing derby was held.
Pledging hours are held on the local TV or radio station. People just call in the amount they are willing to donate and then the ladies drive around to the homes collecting the donations.
All of this requires a lot of commitment, time and organization. My wish is that more people would help and have the same enthusiasm which, by the way, has not waned even after strenuous efforts and a few difficulties.
Many ask, “When are you building the church?” The answer always is: “When we have enough money!”
The need for a building is especially felt when we have to set up at the school gym all that is needed for the Christmas Mass and the Easter Triduum. Just consider setting up the sound system!
And the helping hands are getting weary of doing this year after year. And so am I. Our small church gets so packed at baptisms, First Communions, weddings and funerals that some people do not even attempt to attend.
Next year, I hope and pray our situation will improve.
Sister Carmen Catellier, of the Sisters of the Child Jesus and Mary, is pastoral administrator at Holy Cross mission in Cross Lake, Manitoba, in the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas.
Reprinted from Catholic Missions In Canada Magazine, Winter 2012.