The parish family of St. Charles Borromeo, Cinnaminson, believes evangelization is right at home next to Sno-Cones and Tilt-a-Whirls.
The Burlington County faith community, currently celebrating its annual parish carnival, has incorporated a number of ministry tables among the games booths, says 35-year parishioner John Loftus.
“Being active in Respect Life [ministry] at the parish, county and on the Cohort 2 subcommittee, the ministry table at the carnival was a natural step,” Loftus said. “When the idea was proposed three years ago to our pastor, Father Daniel E. Kirk, his response was, ‘It makes sense, after all, we’re a Church carnival.’
“Working with Faith in Our Future demonstrated the advantage of working together on respect life,” Loftus continued. “Members of Cohort 2 already participate with the March for Life in Washington, D.C., so the advantage of a table at the carnival was obvious.”
In addition to St. Charles Borromeo Parish, the Cohort 2 parishes are Sacred Heart, Riverton; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maple Shade.
The ministry table is stocked with life-size fetal models, educational materials and brochures, courtesy of fellow cohort member Claire Howson of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and staffed by members of the parish Holy Name Society, Cohort 2, Respect Life Burlington County and Knights of Columbus Council 1436, Delran. “It is a good way to evangelize and educate those that attend the carnival,” Loftus asserted.
The success of the Respect Life table has encouraged other ministries to inform and evangelize at the carnival, he added.
“A decision was made this year to add the St. Vincent de Paul Ministry and Relevant Catholic Radio to allow us to share what we do to the community,” said Loftus. “The new members are sponsored by the parish and staffed with their own volunteers.”
Tim Hurley, president of the St Charles Borromeo St. Vincent de Paul Conference, said, “We all agreed that having a presence at our annual carnival was important [to] spread the news about our ministry and recognize the generous support we receive from Father Dan and members of our parish.”
Hurley said the SVDP Society began early last year and a helpline instituted this past June. Thirty active members have helped more than 30 guests, some mothers with children, other singles struggling to get by.
“We have provided financial help with rent, utilities, food and clothing, and also work with other agencies that can provide additional assistance such as Catholic Charities, First Way and Bread of Life Food Pantry,” Hurley noted.