Archdiocese Local Parishes Workers in the Vineyard

Volunteer finds service has its own rewards

Julie Strathman does many of the little things that help Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca run smoothly

Julie Strathman does many of the little things that help Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca run smoothly.

by Joe Bollig

SENECA — Not all church ministries or volunteer work are highly visible or “prestigious” — if such a thing can even be said about a ministry.

Rather, most of the tasks that parish ministers and volunteers do are mundane and attract little notice.

Until they’re not done.

One such task could be called “the ministry of keeping track of things.” That’s what Julie Strathman does (among other things) at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca.

One of Strathman’s tasks is keeping track of pledges and donations by entering information on a computer at the parish.

“We’ve had a couple of fundraisers for our school and for our church renovation,” said Strathman, a lifelong parishioner. “I put the donation information into the computer and send out statements to the people who made pledges.”

If you’re a Seneca parishioner and have received monthly, quarterly, semiannual and annual statements, you have Strathman to thank.

“Most of our pledges have been met and we’re not sending [the statements] out any more,” said Strathman.

Now, she just records the weekly Sunday collection and donations to the school. And she makes sure that it all adds up.

Although she had no prior experience in this sort of thing, a previous pastor had asked her to help out recording the fundraising donations, and then the current pastor, Father Arul Carasala, asked her to help record the weekly plate offering.

She enjoys helping out, and she knows it helps people.

“People ask [for documentation] for their yearly contribution for taxes, so it has to be accurate,” she said.

Strathman puts a lot of her heart into those “among other things” mentioned earlier. She’s a member of the quilting committee, which meets three times a week. She’s a lector and eucharistic minister. She also sings in the choir.

Why is it important to volunteer?

To keep the parish going, obviously, she said. It also has its spiritual rewards.

“There are aspects of every volunteer job that bring me closer to Christ, like sitting around with the quilting ladies and talking about issues in the church and in the world,” said Strathman.

“And when I take holy Communion to the sick and homebound, they are just so appreciative,” she said.

It’s very rewarding to do that service,” she added.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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