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A Thanksgiving Tradition that Works

December 1, 2017

At St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Henderson, NV, Thanksgiving is a working holiday. For more than 20 years, families gather together to deliver holiday dinners with all the trimmings — and even a table centerpiece — to homebound seniors, the disabled or those who have no one to celebrate the holiday with.

They call the project, GLOWS, or God’s Love Overflows While Serving. The tradition comes around full circle this year. It started when Fr. Dan Nolan, CSV, was pastor — Fr. Ken Morris, CSV, said the first Thanksgiving Mass — and with his return this year, it continues as strong as ever.

(L-R) Fr. Alan Syslo, Fr. Dan Nolan and Fr. Michael Keliher concelebrate Mass

Parish families who sign up to participate, arrive for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning — made and served by parishioners — before attending a special Mass. All of the Viatorian priests of the parish concelebrate, including Fr. Dan, and Fr. Michael Keliher, CSV, and Fr. Alan Syslo, CSV, associate pastors.

“What a wonderful sight to see a full house,” exclaimed Associate Juliann Dwyer, who helped organize the day. “When Fr. Dan called everyone who was delivering meals to the altar, almost the whole church came forward. It was a wonderful sight.”

Afterwards, families lined up out the door of the parish’s community center to pick up their meal portions and table decorations, made by the parish’s Mom’s ministry.

All told, some 270 families delivered 850 meals. Add in the numbers of parishioners who were served a breakfast before Mass, it comes to more than 1,200 people who were served that day, and all with a team of 50 volunteers — including Viatorian associates, staff members and parishioners who planned the day.

Associate Cheryl Schwarz, right, distributes meal portions to volunteers

Parish leaders partner with HopeLink of Southern Nevada, a nonprofit organization based in Henderson, as well as Meals on Wheels to identify seniors who are homebound or alone on Thanksgiving day.

 

“It serves as just another example of the Christian outreach that is so central to St. Thomas More,” says Fr. Egan, provincial. “Many of the homebound are delighted by the visit as well as by the delicious meal.”