St. Irenaeus Care Ministry in Cypress asked for the help of teachers and students at St. Irenaeus School and parishioners of St. Irenaeus Church to share the Christmas Spirit with residents of local care centers and homebound parishioners through their annual Giving Tree outreach project.
Beginning in November, Health Ministry Board members began preparing over 400 paper bags for their Christmas Giving Tree project. Teachers and students were asked to help decorate the bags for men and women who live in the five care centers that are within the boundaries of St. Irenaeus Parish. Health Ministry members visit these five care centers each week to pray the rosary or conduct Eucharistic services so they know many of these residents personally. In addition, St. Irenaeus parish priests celebrate Mass once a month at each of these care centers.
On the first weekend of December, St. Irenaeus parishioners began filling the decorated brown bags with items from a suggested list of gifts for the men and women at the care centers and the homebound parishioners. Parishioners responded quickly and generously so that by Dec. 12, the new brides’ room in the church was filled with the brown paper bags overflowing with gifts.
During the week of Dec. 12-16, teams of Health Ministry members delivered the filled gift bags to Harvest Retirement and Knott Care Center in Buena Park, Sunrise Assisted Living in La Palma and Genesis and Karlton Care Center in Anaheim. They were joined by St. Irenaeus Adult Choir members and parishioners. The residents all seemed to enjoy listening to and joining in singing familiar holiday songs. They liked the surprises they received in their gift bags, especially lap blankets.
The Giving Tree Project for 2016 came to an end, but evangelization still continues each week at the care centers. People who would like to join Health Care Ministry members and bring the Good News of Christ to residents of the care centers can contact Grace Francis at 714-742-0960 or contact Sr. Rita O’Connell at 714-826-0760.