September 16, 2005

Angels from the Heart help
low-income residents

By Mary Ann Wyand

Angels from the HeartMore than 300 volunteers of all ages joined hands on Sept. 10 to help clean up and fix up 20 properties on the near-south side of Indianapolis during Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish’s sixth annual Angels from the Heart Day.

“It’s really heartwarming to see so many people coming together to recognize that there is a need and to find ways of responding to that need as Angels from the Heart,” said Franciscan Father Frank Kordek, pastor of the historic Indianapolis South Deanery parish, during a break from helping volunteers last Saturday afternoon.

“In so many ways, we realize that we are the hands of God, that we reach out to the poor, to the elderly and to the needy,” he said, “responding to their needs, and we do it prayerfully and joyfully.”

Father Frank, who has served as Sacred Heart’s pastor since July 8, 2004, said the community service project benefits low-income homeowners who reside in the Concord Neighborhood within the parish boundaries.

“We’re painting home exteriors, cleaning gutters, putting in hand railings for handicap access to homes, repairing porches, cleaning up the neighborhood, planting flowers and hauling garbage for people who are not able to take care of it themselves,” he explained. “It’s a hands-on way to help people who are very much in need. There’s been an excellent response, and it’s a credit to those parishioners who spent a year working on putting this day together.”

In collaboration with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, he said, members of the 400-household parish and other volunteers from area schools, churches, hospitals and corporations took the teachings of Jesus to the streets by helping the needy.

Angels from the Heart Day started with prayer in the ornate Gothic church that was restored by the archdiocese and parish after an electrical fire gutted the interior on April 27, 2001.

“The prayer service was a time to recognize that we make the Lord alive and present and visible to others [as volunteers],” Father Frank said, “and in reaching out to the most needy among us it is a joy to see their response, to realize that we are here together in this neighborhood, and that in the midst of it all God is here with us.”

More PhotosSacred Heart parishioners Linda Rowland and Joseph Williams of Indianapolis were among committee members who started planning the project last January.

“Most of the people that we help are elderly, disabled or low-income and they can’t afford to do the work themselves,” Rowland said. “The [volunteer and donor] response this year is marvelous. More than 300 volunteers came to give their time and talent on a Saturday when they could be doing other things, and it’s very inspiring.”

Each year, the community service project has grown in volunteers and donations, she said, so many more people receive much-needed assistance.

“Keep Indianapolis Beautiful has helped us for the past three years and it’s been wonderful,” Rowland said. “They work in partnership with us to prep the homes that are in need of painting and repairs, and they provide paint and brushes.”

This year, volunteers ranged in age from grade-school children to senior citizens, she said, who do whatever they can to help with the neighborhood improvement project.

“We have Benedictine sisters from Our Lady of Grace Monastery who pray for us every year,” Rowland said. “We call them the God Squad. They pray for good weather, and for six years running we have had sunshine.”

Volunteers also prayed the rosary in the church, she said. “We offered our prayers for all those in the military, all those who had loved ones who lost their lives on Sept. 11 … and for the victims and survivors of Hurricane Katrina.”

The project symbolizes “people helping people by doing God’s work,” Williams said. “There’s also prayer going on as we do the work, and the work itself is a prayer. There are lots of smiles all day because when you’re giving to others you always have a smile.”

It was a hot day to work outdoors, but also was a fun time for Roncalli High School students who painted a Victorian cottage near the church and painted each other in the process.

“I like helping people,” said Roncalli sophomore Julie Carroll, who is a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. “This is a good service project. You get to spend a day helping people with your best friends.”

Roncalli junior Matt Ragozzino of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis said he feels good about helping paint Rose Bonwell’s house.

“It’s a great feeling to help people and do good in the community,” Matt said, “and make it look better so people get a sense of unity out of this.”

As Bonwell watched the students finish painting the trim on her front porch, she said she has been a member of Sacred Heart Parish for nearly 40 years and has lived in her home for 10 years.

“With old houses, there’s always something to do,” she said. “If the kids weren’t painting my house, it probably wouldn’t get done, plain and simple. I can’t afford to hire a professional painter.”

Roncalli senior Stacy Cary, a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis, said “it’s one thing to donate money to help others because you know it’s going to help a good cause, but you don’t know who it helps. We’re painting this house for Rose Bonwell.”

St. Barnabas School sixth-grader Eric Hanley of Indianapolis volunteered at Sacred Heart Church by polishing the pews, confessionals, columns and ornate altar rail restored four years ago.

“It takes a long time to dust the church,” Eric said, “but it feels pretty good to help out.”

Participating partners included the Arthur and Anna Field family, Catholic Youth Organization, Christian Theological Seminary, Sacred Heart Parish, Friends of Sacred Heart Parish, Good Shepherd Parish, Heidenreich Nursery, Holy Angels Parish, Holy Cross Parish, medical students from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Immanuel United Church of Christ, Indianapolis Ambassadors, Indianapolis Firefighters Emerald Society and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

Other partners were the Indianapolis Foundation, Knights of Columbus Councils #3660 and #437, Monogram Magic, Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Roncalli High School, Sagamore Health Network, SBC Telephone Pioneers, Spectral Graphics, SS. Francis and Clare Parish, St. Francis Hospital, St. Jude Parish and St. Roch Parish. †


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