PASKET: Lenten acts of service

February 27, 2024

As I look back on my earlier years, giving up something, including meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays, was just a part of what we did to prepare ourselves to appreciate the sacrifice of Christ.

A St. Joseph Altar was a big part of our family tradition; during Lent, gathering to bake and cook to help feed the poor was our sacrifice of love and praying for those who were ill or struggling, asking for God’s healing touch. Today, this tradition is still part of our family. With our children, we gather to pray, read Scripture, and discuss our Catholic faith; now, with God’s grace, we teach our grandchildren these traditions.

There are many ways families enrich themselves in the Lenten journey and give back throughout the year. I connected with two of our seniors in parishes, and I was so amazed at what they had to say.

Barbara Murray, president of the Central Senior Senate, said, “As children, we were taught to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent. However, I do remember the time when Catholics did not eat meat on any Friday. We were also taught to give up eating sweets, going to the movies; and to make sacrifices. As we mature in our faith, we should use the Lenten season as a time for self-reflection to realize our shortcomings. Through prayer, fasting if our health permits, almsgiving, and other acts of charity, we can prepare ourselves to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter.”

On my second week in the Office of Aging, Shirley Smaistrla and her daughter Karen Olsovsky came to the office bringing 1,000 handmade rosaries, crafted by their senior group for our office to distribute them where needed. I was so intrigued to learn more about this “act of service.” I had the opportunity to visit with Shirley and the Sacred Heart of Jesus “Rosary Guild” in Manvel to learn more about this ministry.

During my visit, I learned about other services within this group. It was a privilege to meet and spend time with this group.

When asked how rosary crafting began, Shirley did not hesitate to share she was not the person who started this act of love.

Sister Teresita and Sister Dorothy were the founders of this service opportunity. Their vision was a way to give back to the Archdiocese “Third Agers” Ministry.

Shirley shared it was a while before she said “Yes” to their invitation, and now she leads the Rosary Guild group and teaches others to make these rosaries. Through this service, she has made many friends and built lifelong relationships; she can’t imagine it not being a part of her life. Shirley shared that after they are taught to make rosaries, they can choose to pick up supplies and make them at home. However, for these ladies, it’s not just about making the rosaries and getting together. They found healing, great bonding, and even helping each other get through difficult times.

To my surprise, the Archdiocese Aging Ministry were not the only ones receiving these rosaries. In various areas in Africa, the military during a war and other parishes also did. At this Sacred Heart of Jesus in Manvel, for Pentecost, special rosaries are created and offered to everyone at the Liturgy. †

Gina Pasket is an associate director with the Office of Aging.

(Photo by James Ramos/Herald)