Being Thankful, giving back

November 22, 2011

HOUSTON — As we near Thanksgiving Day, many tend to reflect on the abudance of blessings in one’s life. Thanksgiving often prompts people of faith to help those in need during the holiday season. The Texas Catholic Herald asked several organizations and agencies to share opportunities for local Catholics to bless others during Thanksgiving — or any time of year. 

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
HOUSTON — During the holiday season, St. Vincent de Paul conferences throughout the Archdiocese work in different ways to make the holidays special to families that might not otherwise have the food and gifts that are often associated with the holidays.

“This is a time to give thanks for all our blessings and to share with others,” said Ann Schorno, Executive Director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for the Archdiocese. “We are all part of God’s family and no one should be forgotten for the holidays. Our goal is to bring hope to others and to spread the season of joy.”

Through the support of their donors and partners, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul reaches out to those in need in the community. Schorno shared numerous examples of Thanksgiving activities at SVdP Conferences.

At Holy Family Church in Rosenberg, Vincentians assemble baskets with items donated by parishioners and deliver the boxes with home baked goodies to families in their community. At Guardian Angel Church in Wallis, Vincentians partner with Brazos ISD students who helped collect food for the cause. The meals are boxed and delivered on the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving.

Several schools also help with food drives, such as Sharpstown High School, YES Prep and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School. The Society has volunteer groups that assist in preparation at locations such as Rice University, Shell, Chevron, and MD Anderson.

For Christmas, in addition to the holiday meal, adopting families becomes an important part of the holiday activities. One of the SVdP conferences, St. Peter the Apostle Church, even prepares and serves a Christmas meal for those without a home or someone to share the holidays. To support the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, call 713- 741-8234. † 

Martha’s Kitchen
KINGWOOD — Martha’s Kitchen is one of St. Martha Catholic Church’s (Kingwood) mission activities, according to Martha’s Kitchen website. 

Martha’s Kitchen project began in 1991 and opened in 1992 with Sister Maria Elena Lopez as Director and Sister Julianne Sandoval as Assistant Director. They have two more full time employees and about 20 volunteers, Monday through Friday. Martha’s Kitchen serves hot nutritious lunches for about 350 to 400 hungry men, women and children daily.

Martha’s Kitchen is located at 322 South Jensen Dr. If you would like to give a donation or become a new volunteer, contact Sister Maria Elena at 713-224-2522. †

Angela House
HOUSTON — A residential facility for women exiting the criminal justice system, Angela House provides a life-enriching, residential program to serve adult women who are typically homeless or at risk of being homeless and have few (if any) resources with which to begin the process of moving toward stable residency and productive lives. 

As these women enter Angela House, they are asked to make a minimum four month commitment to the program. 
Sister Maureen O’Connell, O.P., Angela House Director, shared with the Herald some of her reflections of Angela House during this Thanksgiving season. 

The mission of Angela House is “to provide, with sensitivity to the unique needs of women after incarceration, a safe place where they can live, grow and become the kind of person they want to be,” Sister O’Connell said. “We are able to accomplish this through the generosity of many, many people of this community and as a result often reflect on the concept of thanks. Here at Angela House we regularly celebrate a type of Thanksgiving as we come together and share with many different individuals, groups and families.”

  • In the past few months, eighth grade students from Our Lady of Guadalupe School who gave a morning of service and shared their time, collected treasures and energy with the women of Angela House.
  • Once a month students, faculty and parents from Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart bring a meal and share Bingo games, singing and good cheer.
  • Third year diaconate candidates share of themselves in weekly Bible study class. They were also instrumental in the successful harvest of our garden which they helped plant and cultivate.
  • With the coordination of Kim Kehoe, another group of deacons led a weekly Centering Prayer Group that has been a mainstay of Sunday evenings since 2003.
  • St. Michael’s students have offered turkeys and ham for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
  • In December, Angela House will celebrate Advent with the Circle of Prayers Theresian Group; Duchesne students will return and residents anticipate attending one or two theater performances during the Christmas season.
  • Angela House has been the recipients of collected goods from Church Women United; Memorial Drive Methodist Church; St. Cecilia Women’s Club.

“Because we are a ministry that relies solely on the generous gifts of many, Thanksgiving is truly a year round event here at Angela House,” Sister O’Connell said. “We regularly welcome and break bread with many people who come to celebrate the very thing that connects us…the human condition.”

For more information about Angela House call 281-445-9696 or email Sister O’Connell at †

San José Clinic
HOUSTON — For San José Clinic, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Advent has plenty of traditions.
For 90 years, San José Clinic has provided medical, dental and pharmacy services through the generosity of volunteer providers. 

For patients who may be undergoing some additional strain and difficulty, the clinic, with the help of community supporters, offers some programs that can be beneficial during the Christmas season. 

The Charity Guild of Catholic Women began the Children’s Christmas party 73 years ago with gifts of oranges and bread to the littlest of patients. Today, the Ladies in Pink collect toys and money to purchase wish list items. 

Another tradition is provided by the students of Assumption Catholic School. Students, who have adopted patient families for over 10 years, learn the gift of giving. This year, San José Clinic will combine the adopt-a-family program with the Christmas party. 

For senior patients, San José Clinic’s plans a Christmas celebration along with the Ladies Auxiliary from the Sembrades de Amistad, a club of local prominent businessmen and doctors from the Hispanic community in Houston. Also contributing to the senior celebration are the the Daughters of Italian Heritage. 

For more information on the list of medical, dental and pharmacy services provided by San José Clinic, visit, or call 713-228-9411. For those in the health care community who wish to volunteer their services, call 713-228-9413. San José Clinic is located in Midtown at 2615 Fannin. †

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
RICHMOND — Catholic Charities fulfills social and human service needs to Houston and Galveston communities through programs aimed at promoting and facilitating self-sufficiency.

The agency’s four focus areas are family and children services; community outreach services; immigration and refugee resettlement services; and housing. 

In January, Catholic Charities opened the Mamie George Community Center in Fort Bend County.