CSA sends Semi-sized container to show full-sized support

Courtney Cook

Our Lady of Remedy, a parish located in Tremedal, El Salvador, will receive a trailer-sized container of food, clothes and medical supplies later this month. PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK BARTHOLET

Credit: DKS Editors

The Newman Center and Kent State Catholic Student Association will send a container the size of a tractor-trailer to El Salvador to provide the church’s sister parish with food, clothes and medical supplies later this month.

“There’s a lot of things that go on in the Newman Center, but this is the center of our parish right now,” said Mark Bartholet, campus ministry intern and Kent State graduate. “I’ve never seen a project create so much passion in our parish.”

Organization of the project began last summer. Newman Center pastor Father John Jerek and 16 students and parishioners traveled to Rome with the pastor of Our Lady of Remedy, located in Tremedal, El Salvador. Jerek said CSA and Newman Center parishioners were looking for ways to support the sister parish.

“We asked what we could do and he said, ‘You have the resources and generosity to do a container — so that’s how it all started,” Jerek said.

CSA student leader Amanda Valley said the project is supported by donations from the parish and Catholic Charities in Ravenna. She said they spent most of last weekend packing and conducting inventory on the supplies.

“It’s a great project for the church to get together and work on,” she said. “It will hopefully benefit many people in El Salvador.”

Parishioners of all ages, including Kent State students and Catholic Christian Doctrine students at the Newman Center, have helped with the organization of the project, Valley said.

Bartholet said the project has helped break down stereotypes of the people who live in El Salvador and helped parishioners understand their needs.

“We are putting things directly from the hands of our parishioners directly into the hands of parishioners there,” he said.

The support the Newman Center has shown with this project represents the unification of Catholicism in the world, Jerek said.

“It keeps us aware that most of the people in the world sharing in Catholicism are in Third World countries,” Jerek said. “We are the most prosperous nation. This keeps the awareness that we are a one-faith religion and a one-faith family.”

The Newman Center has supported Our Lady of Remedy since 1999, Jerek said. The congregation raised more than $25,000 to help rebuild the church that was destroyed during civil conflicts in El Salvador. The church was completely demolished. There was no longer a roof on the building and the altar was speckled with bullet holes.

“They now have one of the most beautiful churches in the area,” he said. “They are very proud of it.”

Jerek has visited the sister parish three times since the dedication in 2005 and plans to return again in late December to see the impact of the container on the people. The project will continue for the next few weeks, and Jerek said the container will be sent before Thanksgiving.

“This is the biggest project we have ever done in terms of reaching out to the needy,” Jerek said.

The CSA meets the first Thursday of every month at 9 p.m. in the Fireside Lounge in the Newman Center.

Contact religion reporter Courtney Cook at [email protected].