My Christmas will be merrier and more meaningful because my Advent packed a lot of Christ Child. Everywhere I went it was about the incarnation. . . .
Happy Birthday, Chicago Chapter!
First stop was in Chicago, where the Chicago chapter celebrated its 20th anniversary of its “reactivation” with a wonderful Mass and celebration dinner. President Dorothy Pauly welcomed all the guests to the festive gathering and thanked members and supporters for their efforts to serve local Chicago children. We heard about how the Christ Child Society of Chicago, after closing in the 1970’s, was born again in 1996 through a small group of women with connections to members of the earlier group. And how a providential gift around that time enabled the chapter to restart programs and sponsorships. Every detail was perfect, from the video to the inspirational speeches to the handmade programs and party favors wrapped “from the Christ Child”. I was honored to share in the celebration and share some information about our founder and how she was inspired by the birth of Christ—and it was great fun attending with Maureen Wesley, Immediate Past President.
Illinois Christ Child Chapters Make the “Christmas Edition”
After a Starbucks “flat white with holiday spice” and a foggy, foggy drive, our next stop was Peoria. We had lunch in Peoria where we learned about the chapter’s huge geographic
footprint and saw their layette items and assembly space, which is provided by the Diocese of Peoria. We were joined by a reporter from The Catholic Post, the diocesan newspaper, who asked about the chapter’s work, our founder, the Follett donation, and about the needs of both the Central Illinois chapter and the Quad Cities chapter. Check out the article (and the picture of Central Illinois President Judy Hayes) and see the fantastic promo for new members and layette items for both chapters! A great example of strong diocesan support and great initiative in getting their story told by both chapters . . . .
A “Plan Is Born” to Meet Increasing Local Needs
Maureen and I then moved on to Quad Cities, where we got a tour of their layette assembly location and enjoyed a tasty lunch at the home of President Joe Dockery Jackson. Then we rolled up our sleeves in a planning session, where we worked on addressing Quad Cities’ challenges around membership and fundraising in the face of local requests that the chapter double layette output. Our focus was on being forward-looking and ambitious, but also very realistic and clear about what can and should be done when in 2016 to ensure success. Maureen and I left charged up and excited about Quad Cities’ new year, and enriched by the time we spent with its leaders.
Seeds of a New Monterey Chapter, Including a First Donation . . .
A small group of potential members came out on a rainy night to my house in early December to learn about the Christ Child Society and consider whether there might be a motivated
group of people to meet the needs of local children in my new hometown. We were so lucky to have Lou Tatar and Sandy Sifferman of the nearby San Jose chapter join us and talk about their programs and what it means to be a member of Christ Child. And then a serendipitous donation came our way. Joann Scanlon of Pacific Grove, CA, was a prolific knitter of baby blankets, many of which she left to her daughters when she passed. I met Joann’s granddaughter and told her about Christ Child and she immediately thought of her grandmother’s legacy in blankets. She then got several from her aunt and delivered them to my house for the nascent Monterey chapter. So even before our second preliminary meeting, we have beautiful start to a layette program! Please pray for our discernment!
All this rebirth, inspiration and new birth leave me ready to accept the gift of Christmas and take it forward in my heart. As Mary Virginia Merrick, Servant of God, said: “Welcome, welcome, dear Jesus, I open wide my heart to You, come rest within my heart.” Merry Christmas to each of you and may the Christ Child be reborn in you and yours this Friday and stay with you throughout 2016.