What began as a snow/inclement weather call list for parishioners of St. Frances Cabrini Church in West Pawlet has evolved and grown as a way “to break down the distance between us” and to share and keep in touch about any number of things, said parishioner Susan Hosley. It has ongoing informally for years and became more active when Covid-19 hit and after the suspension of Masses at St. Frances Cabrini.

The phone ministry initially was a way to keep shut-in parishioners involved in the parish and also was used to notify parishioners of changes or cancellations in Masses due to inclement weather. “It is a hybrid of phone and email contact,” she explained.

As Covid- 19 forced the suspension of public Masses, it was used as a way to connect with all St. Frances Cabrini parishioners, offering both encouragement and news of on-line Masses, diocesan notifications and local parish activities and needs.

“Our phone/email connection has become infinitely more important since the June 2021 ‘suspension’ of Masses at St. Frances Cabrini,” Hosley said.

Both phone and email are used to keep parishioners up to date on area Masses, bulletins from local parishes and activities at St. Frances Cabrini Church such as the annual yard sale, wreath sales, contributions to community projects and “most importantly keeping tabs on each other,” she continued. “It is a way for us to stay connected as a parish community.”

Calls are made and emails sent as needed and as parishioners want to reach out to others.

“The phone calls are so important. I appreciate being kept in contact with church activities, events and friends,” said parishioner Patricia Perkins. “Every parish needs a Christian community where we are able to pray with each other, learn what is happening with each other and support each other in our faith and in our daily lives.”

Because the church is in a central place in a rural area, “we have always been aware of parishioners who needed help and kept in touch with several who could not come to Mass,” said Mike Emond, a parishioner and head of St. Frances Cabrini music ministry. “It is a community as much as a Catholic parish.”

According to Hosley, the ministry speaks to the communal spirit of parishioners and their joy being connected, whether in person, by phone or by email. “We take our responsibilities for our parish community as well as the community within our towns very seriously and are supportive of spiritual, health and financial needs within the parish and the greater community,” she said. “There is always a positive feeling when you are helping others. Calls often evolve into a chat about many different topics and gives as much positive feeling to the caller as it does to the person called.”

—Originally published in the Winter 2021 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.