St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove, IL

"Kindness is a way of life"

A parishioner gave the church organist a bouquet of pink roses thanking her for her instrumental talents. (Credit: Audre Kurowski)

St. Katharine Drexel Church in Sugar Grove started meeting in a local elementary school. Quickly, they made plans to build a permanent church building, which has been open now for more than three years. We moved here when we were still meeting in the school. The philosophy of SKD is to make everyone feel welcome and wanted. We have numerous programs to cover every age and life stage situation. One program, in which I participate, is the St. Vincent de Paul Conference dedicated to helping the poor (no need to belong to any church or religious group). SVdP grants requests received for people who need help paying rent, mortgage, car repairs, utilities, medical bills, or any legitimate need. We have helped in our service area, boundaries are set to divide the work between different parishes, and often beyond, if necessary. No repayment is needed or requested. Just a thank you note.

One client has multiple health problems, including an ongoing cigarette addiction. She has several specialists she must see monthly in order to keep her medical benefits current. We helped pay for her rent, which she was behind on. We strongly advised her to stop smoking, as we were almost asphyxiated in her unit by smoke, and she has a heart condition on top of it all. Next visit, she asked if we noticed less smoke, because she was now “rolling her own” and felt it reduced the smoke. Not so, we said!

One client, recently divorced with two children, needed help paying for her auto repairs. She was receiving help from her ex for various expenses, but the auto repairs were outside of that. She also attended a job seminar that led her to a better position. At her final session of the seminar, generous sponsors treated all who attended to a KFC dinner after receiving their diploma and floral bouquet.

One member of our parish received a free funeral mass after her sudden and unexpected death. She was a substitute teacher who also signed ASL for the deaf at services.

Recognition is often given to volunteers (home visitors, donors, VBS teachers, choir members, and gardeners) with special dinners and/or after-service parties.

We try to help instantly for those who need gas money, cash for groceries, etc.  We offer referral to a weekly food bank with many different kinds of foods. We take collections regularly for food banks, Oglala Pine Ridge Indian Reservation children who need school supplies (one of our founders’ special charities), blankets, mittens, coats, hats, and Christmas tree “gifts.”