Success stories sometimes start as the smallest of ideas. In our case here at St. Charles Parish, it began with a whisper of the Spirit.

One of our parishioners was attending a parish retreat and felt the stirrings in her heart after hearing a presentation on using the talents with which we are blessed. Although her artistic talents had been kept quiet for many years (she used her nursing abilities on the oncology unit where she worked) her retirement from nursing allow ed her to develop her art and become quite accomplished. She put her two gifts together and through the Town & Country Fine Arts Gallery began to offer her “Red Paper Lecture Series.” Named after a difficult time in her life when she took out a red paper and painted a bright bouquet of sunflowers to express her feelings and creativity, her art sessions found their way to her parish and bloomed here as well.

Lucille’s series is geared toward people with life altering illnesses and is a fun, hands on, instructive art program divided into 7 weekly sessions. Each week a different form of art expression is used to help bring comfort and creative expression to the participants. Lucille found this to be healing for herself and wanted to pass it on. One week may be watercolor or pastel painting, then on to calligraphy, card making or collage. Beading and acrylic painting were also presented by various artists – all volunteering their time. No artistic ability was required to sign up for the classes. It was open to men & women, young and old, parishioners and non-parishioners. One local artist commented how it was rewarding for her to share her artistic talent and see how people can “literally step away from their fears and their pain and put it in a different place.” She found it a “healthy way to zone out.”

Comments from our participants attested to that very fact:

“It gave me something to look forward to.”
“They were far out-reaching any plans.”
“The art brought me feelings of peace, happiness and excitement.”
“They gave me a real pick-up.”
“It is the only thing that gets me out of the house, other than chemo.”

I feel very fortunate to be working in a parish community where there is such volunteer spirit and that Lucille came to me with her idea. Her own personal healing rippled into the lives of many and hopefully will continue for many others. I think the words to the hymn of St. Theresa say our Christian mission very well – “Christ has no body now but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world….” The success of this program is one more example for me to use the gifts of each one of us to make a healthy Body of Christ.

Ruth Hoffman, RN, HMA Member and Faith Community Nurse at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Dayton, OH