Sacred Heart Parish, North Merrick recently renamed and dedicated their Parish Outreach and Food Pantry to honor of two Sisters of St. Joseph who founded and built the programs.

On November 7 the parish dedicated the Sister Edward Joseph, CSJ, Parish Outreach and the Sister Patricia Turley, CSJ, Food Pantry to coincide with  Sister Edward Joseph’s 100 birthday and Sister Patricia’s 60 anniversary as  a Sister of St. Joseph.

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Sisters Edward Joseph, left, and Patricia react to the unveiling of new sign at the parish outreach

In its bulletin the weekend of the dedications, the parish shared some of the history of the Sister’s ministry there.

Sacred Heart Parish has had Sisters of St. Joseph in ministry and residence since the parish’s foundation. In 1970, the pastor, Father Casola, invited Sister Edward Joseph Murphy to Sacred Heart to identify and seek ways of attending to the unmet needs of parishioners.

Sister Edward Joseph learned of many elderly home-bound parishioners who were no longer able to be actively involved in parish life. She also discovered many parishioners who were calling and visiting some of the home-bound. Sr. Edward Joseph organized the women and coordinated a formal outreach ministry. Father Casola funded the new endeavor with $30 and provided a parish car for Sister Edward Joseph’s use to meet the needs of the home-bound parishioners. Through the generosity of the parishioners of Sacred Heart, Sister Edward Joseph never had occasion to ask the Father Casola for any more money.

Sister Patricia and Sister Edward Joseph enjoy the parish celebration.

Sister Patricia and Sister Edward Joseph enjoy the parish celebration.

After twenty years in ministry at Sacred Heart, as Sister Edward Joseph was preparing to retire, the diocese was developing Parish Social Ministry for all parishes. Then-administrator, Father Gallagher, brought Sister Patricia Sweeney, CSJ, on staff to take over the Outreach program Sister Edward Joseph had established and incorporate the ideas coming from the diocese. Very soon after joining the staff, Sister Pat was elected to leadership in her congregation and stepped down from Sacred Heart. Father Gallagher invited Sister Patricia Turley, CSJ to join the staff.

Sister Pat began learning about the needs of the parish and Parish Social Ministry. The ministry to the home-bound continued now with an office in the school. While maintaining this ministry, Sister Pat became aware of people of all ages coming more frequently with different needs. She found many of the ‘dear neighbors’ struggling even to keep enough food in the house. Sister Pat found a small storage room in the school not being used and set up a small food pantry.

When the parish offices moved from the rectory to what was then the convent, Sister Pat expressed a need for a larger pantry for the outreach. While the other offices were already up and running in the new Parish Center, Sister Pat and her volunteers were busy cleaning out the sisters’ ‘trunk room’ and building an extension to house the new Food Pantry.

Over the next twenty years, Sister Pat continued to “divide the city, seek the greatest ills and cure them.” What Sister Edward Joseph had begun in 1970 as an outreach to the homebound has grown to include a food pantry, additional help at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, the Advent Giving Tree, consolation ministries, bereavement ministries, and continuing to minister to the homebound including, cards, visits, Communion calls, medical transportation and, of course, phone calls where it all began.

Sister Patricia Turley stands beneath the sign that bears her name.

Sister Patricia Turley stands beneath the sign that bears her name.

On November 7 the parish dedicated the Sister Edward Joseph, CSJ, Parish Outreach and the Sister Patricia Turley, CSJ, Food Pantry.

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