St. Martin de Porres lived his life in service to others. He is best known for the many ways in which he brought Christ’s love and mercy to those in need throughout his 59 years. He did so without a second thought, and it is in this same spirit of charitable giving that our St. Martin de Porres Apostolate carries out its mission.
Under the patronage of St. Martin, the apostolate includes the four ministries within our parish that work to serve the poor in different ways — the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the St. Nicholas Advent Tree, the Mother Teresa Food Pantry, and the Holiday Food Baskets.
“These groups do so much good for our local community,” says Nona Stuber, servant leader for the St. Martin de Porres Apostolate. “Their efforts reach beyond our parish bounds, and they make a big impact.”
Nona became the servant leader for the apostolate over a year ago after spending a few years working with Deacon Dick Brown in the St. Raphael Ministry, where she also continues to serve today. Fr. Frank Quezada, surely noting Nona’s heart for those in need, simply asked Nona if she would step up as servant leader for the apostolate, and she readily agreed.
“I have always felt called to reach out to those suffering,” Nona says. “I worked for years as a labor and delivery nurse, and my time in the St. Raphael Ministry visiting the sick and the dying has really stirred up the desire to serve in a whole new way. Serving as a part of the St. Martin de Porres Apostolate is yet another opportunity for me to reach out to those in need and to bring God’s love to them.”
For her part, Nona coordinates the meetings with the servant leaders of each of the four ministries. They meet a few times a year to assess their needs and their activities, and beyond that, each ministry operates with a multitude of volunteers on its own.
The St. Vincent de Paul Ministry works throughout the year to provide emergency help with rent, utilities, and other key needs. When someone in need reaches out to the parish office, they are directed to the servant leader of the St. Vincent de Paul Society who then gathers the resources necessary to help.
The St. Nicholas Advent Tree is a Christmastime-focused charitable ministry. Members of this ministry identify the needs of people who otherwise would not be able to get or give gifts at Christmas, and they place a tree with those needs hung on the branches in the Narthex during Advent. Over the years, the particular people the ministry has served has changed, and that will continue to be the case, as they work to be the hands and feet of Christ to those in need as best they can. Last year, for example, the tree’s tags bore the needs and desires of children from Uvalde, Texas who had endured the trauma of the recent school shooting, as well as the needs of some Ukrainian and Afghan refugees in California. This year, the ministry will serve another group of individuals that has not yet been decided.
The Mother Teresa Food Pantry serves the needs of our local poor. Located in the basement of our church, the food pantry offers a variety of canned goods, produce, personal items, and more.
“It is quite the operation,” Nona says. “It looks like a mini grocery store, and it serves many people in need right here in our area.”
People come each Friday, and after a brief interview with one of the volunteers, they are offered the opportunity to take what they need. For this ministry, there are baskets located in the Narthex where we can make donations. Those donations, along with other items purchased by the ministry, then make their way to those who need them.
The Holiday Food Basket Ministry, much like the St. Nicholas Advent Tree, is seasonal-focused. Volunteers put together baskets around Thanksgiving and Christmastime with food for a holiday dinner. Those baskets are then given to individuals and families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have a holiday meal.
“These different ministries do an enormous amount of work altogether,” Nona says. “It is such a blessing to be a small part of it.”
What’s more, Nona encourages all of us to consider getting involved. We can do so through small gestures like placing a donation in the food pantry baskets or larger ways by offering our time and talent to these ministries as volunteers. But in whatever way God is calling each one of us to serve, one thing is for sure — there’s an opportunity for us to offer Christ’s loving mercy to those in need, and we ought to do it.
“We are so incredibly blessed,” Nona says. “Everything we have is a gift, and we are called to give of those gifts in love for Christ and others. That is why I feel so strongly about serving in this way. I have been given so many gifts, and it is an honor and a blessing to give of those gifts for others.”
For information about serving through this apostolate, please contact Nona Stuber at 719-598-3595.