Courtesy of Dara West.

'Missionary disciples' at Sacred Heart, Warner Robins, clean up parish grounds

Originally Appeared in : 9816-8/2/18

Sacred Heart parishioners helped build community and support the mission of the church by cleaning the parish grounds June 16. That may not sound like much, but Sacred Heart is blessed with an abundance of property. That blessing comes with, at times, excessive maintenance expenses. Juggling these expenses against other ministry expenses can be challenging. Fortunately, two parish leaders, Jan Giovingo and Dan Knauer stepped up to lead a new ministry addressing this need.


Knauer was inspired by the words of Bishop Hartmayer in the BAA video. The bishop asked us to consider what it means to be a missionary disciple and invited us to ask Jesus what is our role in the church. The Bishop said, “Let God lead you into a new area of ministry and service.” When he later mentioned helping to landscape your church’s property, it resonated.


Giovingo and Knauer worked together to create a detailed list of tasks that could be accomplished by volunteers of all skill levels. Then, team captains were identified. Volunteers were recruited by a variety of means. Hearing that same ministry call, over 65 people signed up to complete the tasks which varied from cleaning windows, to painting, to pulling weeds and to cutting down overgrown brush.


The Parish Clean-up Day was planned for an early Saturday morning. Sacred Heart’s pastor Monsignor Fred Nijem kicked off the activity with a blessing including an inspirational prayer from Saint Fiacre, the patron of landscapers. All volunteers then went to their assigned team. Four hours later, the Sacred Heart grounds were sparkling. The activity ended with a pizza lunch. Many of the volunteers commented that the day was an excellent time of fellowship and they felt pride in seeing the results of their labors. Based on the success of our first event, we plan to have Parish Clean-up Days biannually.


If you are interested in hosting a similar event at your parish, a few best practices to consider are the following:

  • Create a list of tasks that can be done in a few hours by volunteers. Identify the tools and materials needed for each.
  • Get the word out in as many ways as possible: web site, post-Mass sign-ups, Facebook, word of mouth.
  • Make it easy for people to sign up and collect contact information as well equipment they can supply. Web sites are great for this. Email addresses provide the best way to reach the team.
  • Identify team captains. Meet with them ahead of time to ensure tasks are understood, including the people and tools needed to execute them.
  • Coordinate with Public Works on debris pick up. (A good day means you’ll have a lot!)
  • Ensure everyone signs the diocesan liability waiver. Identify a lead for this, including providing the forms.
  • Start with prayer.
  • Provide hyrdration stations throughout.
  • Provide food and drink.
  • Stay safe and have fun!


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