March 13th, 2020 is a day that will live in my memory for quite some time, if not forever. It was the day we received word that Masses would be canceled because of COVID-19. What? How could this be? It was Lent- we had to prepare for Easter. Surely we would be back together for Holy Week and Easter. How could there NOT be Holy Week?
Well, things had changed. I, along with my fellow parishioners, began celebrating Mass in a very different and unfamiliar way.
My name is Helen Acke McComiskey and I have been a parishioner of St. Cletus since 2000, a member of the St. Cletus Chancel Choir since 2006, and a Eucharistic Minister since 2019.
After celebrating Mass virtually for weeks, when word came in June that St. Cletus was ready to open its doors again, but needed help making that happen, I knew I needed to be there. I had to give back to this parish, this family, that had always been there for me.
I sent an e-mail to Fr. Ken and told him to put me where they needed me most. I am 50 (it is the new 30- that’s my story and I’m sticking with it) and am fortunate to be in good health, so volunteering was an easy choice. I was placed on the cleaning crew, which was great, because I am one of those strange people that really likes to clean. After services, we go into church and stealthily clean all the pews used during that service, along with the restrooms and doors. It can be a lot of ground to cover, but our team has great leaders, and everyone works together to make it go quickly and efficiently. I was also asked if I would consider being a Greeter/Usher (Gushers as we like to call ourselves) and of course I said yes. And so, my re-opening volunteer journey began!
Here is the best part and the real surprise: I am the one that truly benefits from volunteering at each Mass. Not only do I get to be back in church celebrating Mass, but I get to welcome people back to Mass. I see their smiling faces and talk with them and hear about their day, life, kids, and grandkids. I get to see old friends and meet new people that under normal circumstances, I would not have had the opportunity to get to know. That was such an unexpected gift, to be able to see these wonderful people each week and be able to wish them a “Good Morning”, “Happy Sunday” and “Welcome Back”. This has brought me more joy then I would have ever imagined. So, while I thought I was volunteering to help the parish, once again, St. Cletus was helping me.
This last year has been tough on everyone in some way– there is no denying that. However, if you’d like to step out, see some smiling faces, and get dressed up at least one day a week (the work from home yoga pants do get tiresome), then I strongly recommend signing up for one of the volunteer positions. I promise that your soul will be filled in many ways! I am typically greeting at the 8:45 and 10:30 Masses on Sundays, so if you have any questions or would like to chat about being a Greeter/Usher or part of the Rock Star Cleaning Crew, please feel free to ask me. I will be happy to fill you in!