Welcome to the Migrant Ministry
It’s hard to imagine being at the mercy of others to get to Mass, but that’s the case for Migrant Workers who are in our area as Guest Farmworkers. We have such a great gift right here in our Parish community to encounter Jesus in the stranger, and welcome Him as He called us to do. Please prayerfully consider the Migrant Ministry and help us ensure our Guest Farmworkers have the means to attend Mass.
Hundreds of men annually work on contract (H-2A visas) with local growers to produce tobacco and other cash crops. These guest workers arrive by bus throughout the growing season and live together in “camps” on the grower’s land, where they are typically isolated by language, lack of transportation and long hours of work. Volunteers from Saint Bernadette offer a vital link to parish life to farm workers.
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ — Matthew 25:37-40
With the help of volunteers, the office of Social Outreach plans, coordinates and conducts outreach and advocacy with farm workers. Whether or not you speak Spanish, there are many ways you can serve.
What Can I Do?
Provide transportation to Mass on Sunday
Every Sunday during growing season(March to November), groups of volunteers from St. Bernadette follow a lead driver along one of three routes (Angier, Fuquay-Varina, Willow Spring) to pick up farm workers, bring them to the 5 PM Sunday Mass and then return them home after dinner (approximately 7 PM). We meet at the church at 3:15 PM and travel together; you do not need to be familiar with the local countryside to drive. Each week we rely on approximately 15 volunteers to serve in this ministry. Schedules are set by Thursday for the coming Sunday. You can drive as often or as infrequently as you like.
Drivers to and from Mass are our greatest ongoing need. Please prayerfully consider participating in this outreach. Sign up by emailing Gloria Azcona (email@example.com) or by calling the Social Outreach office 919-552-8758.
Gloria’s Notes from the Fields
10 July 2018 – Fifteen Drivers of Faith helped to transport 90 farm workers to Mass and dinner this past Sunday. They did it with gladness and a light heart. If you want to see how God has blessed St. Bernadette parish and the Migrant Ministry, please come to the migrant Sunday dinner. You will see a sea of smiles on the farm workers, partner church volunteers, clinic volunteers, and Drivers of Faith. We are HIS instruments!
Driving these men is not for everyone. If you set limits as to how far you want to travel, how much time it takes, or have qualms of driving strangers; perhaps, you might look into volunteering during the Sunday dinner on September 2nd (when it’s St. Bernadette’s turn to host). You will leave with your heart and belly full. Blessings!
Be sure to checkout more of Gloria’s Notes From the Fields here
Volunteer at the Sunday evening screening clinic
Nurses, EMTs, mid-level providers and physicians volunteer at a weekly screening clinic held from June through September at St. Bernadette after the 5 PM Mass on Sundays. Farmworkers are seen on Sundays. Our clinic is screening only. No acute care and no treatment or diagnosis. In some cases, we arrange transport to an ER via the Farmworker Project or the grower. Interpreters are also needed (1/week). Time commitment: Approximately 2 hours/week, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Donate over the counter (OTC) medications
OTCs are available in the screening clinic and on visits by staff to the camps. Many farmworkers have limited access to stores and medications, and they may not have the English language skills needed to read labels and instructions. The clinic collects OTC medications and vitamins that can be distributed by volunteers to workers and under the advisement of healthcare professionals on an “as-needed” basis. Donations can be dropped off at Social Outreach during regular office hours or on Sundays between 3 and 5 pm. For information on farmworker health issues, go to: http://nfwm.org/education-center/farm-worker-issues/health-safety/
Especially in demand: Ibuprofen, Dramamine, Benadryl, antifungals and hydrocortisone, all of which are used in the treatment of work-related conditions.
Donate men’s clothing
Men’s clothing is collected year-round and distributed to farmworkers throughout the growing season. The men can bring only two small bags with them and throughout the season they need gently used or new clothing. Clothing is distributed after Mass on Sunday evenings.
- Men’s long sleeve dress shirts (S, M, L) which are worn to work as protection from sun exposure, pesticide exposure and green tobacco sickness.
- Pants (greatest need is for waist sizes 32-36 and length 30 and 32)
- T shirts and shorts for after work, especially sizes M and L (W: 32, 34, 36)
- Baseball caps for work, sun and pesticide protection
- Bicycle style boxer shorts (New only) made with lycra to protect against chafing while working in the fields.
Donate blankets, sheets and bedding
St. Bernadette has a ministry, “Our Brother’s Keeper” that makes and donates quilts to those in need, including farmworkers. For more information on this ministry, contact Marilyn Kauffman 919-740-8497 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serve on the spiritual care team
The parish community is invited to accompany the pastor to the camps on Thursdays during the month of June for house blessings, Mass and Catholic fellowship. The group meets at the church at 7 PM and travels together. Time commitment: approximately two hours.
You can donate online by clicking the Donate button below. Include Migrant Ministry in the section on the form “Are you donating to any specific fund?”