50th Anniversary Celebration
On Saturday, November 3, 2018, the Ladies of Charity Calvert County celebrated 50 years of service to the poor with a special Mass celebrated by Fr. James Stack followed by a lovely high Tea. We had a total of 35 participants including two of our recently relocated Sisters, Sister Ann Parker and Sister Carol Loughney, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and our pastor Fr. James Stack. The association counted several multiple generation memberships (mother /daughter) and (grandmother/mother/daughter). The oldest living member of the association, who was a young enthusiastic 99 year-old, was given special recognition. Photos and highlights over the 50 years were presented.
The earliest meeting minutes of the Ladies of Charity at St. Anthony’s are dated November 7, 1968. There were 16 members present and the total funds on hand were $484.99. But it’s clear that from the beginning, this small group of women served the parish and the community with amazing energy, generosity, and creativity. Among other activities, they ran a thrift shop, visited sick and homebound parishioners, provided rides to a local clinic and the hospital, and packed and delivered Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to local families in need. (That first Christmas, they reported helping 5 families – we’ve come a long way in 50 years.) We now serve upwards of 300 families each month.
It’s obvious from reading through the decades of meeting minutes that the Ladies of Charity, along with the Knights of Columbus, were the “go-to” people to get things done at St. Anthony’s. After Monsignor James Brooks took over from the reverend Francis Chadnicki as Pastor in 1969, he asked if he could refer to the LOC the people who came to him at the rectory in serious need of food, clothing, or financial assistance, and two members were assigned to serve as contacts for these calls. He also asked the Ladies to make a greater effort to visit homebound parishioners. The Ladies bought and delivered groceries to families who called the parish for help.
During Father Robert Grace’s tenure, the Ladies were asked to cater the first Volunteer Appreciation Day dinner. And in the spring of 1980, LOC members Margaret O’Malley and Dixie Moran met with Father Robert Grace and the Director of the Associated Catholic Charities of Southern Maryland to establish a food pantry in the North Beach area so that clients would not have to travel to Prince Frederick for their food supplies. At that time, the food pantry consisted of one white cabinet in Padua Hall – but it grew quickly to meet the needs of the surrounding community.
The Ladies of Charity were strong supporters of the first homeless shelter in the area in Hughesville, and later of Project Echo in Prince Frederick. We also made a strong commitment to Birthright of Prince Frederick, after Pat Kelly made a presentation to us in 1995. There is so much more that the Ladies of Charity have helped with over the years: nursing home birthday parties, clothing and food drives, hurricane relief efforts, school supplies and backpacks for hundreds of children, prayer shawls for sick parishioners, HeartF.E.L.T. food supplies for students in need, baby showers for Birthright, funds for St. Ann’s Center for Children, Giving Tree Christmas gifts, the establishment of the first Junior Ladies of Charity unit in our Archdiocese, and so much more.