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Local News in brief - January 2016

The Northern Cross
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Bishop named for Kingstown

Pope Francis on Dec. 22 announced in Rome the appointment of Father Gerard County, C.S.Sp., as the third bishop of the Diocese of Kingstown. In 2011 when Bishop Jason Gordon was appointed, he was given the unusual appointment of two independent dioceses: that of Bridgetown, Barbados, and Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. After extensive consultation, Pope Francis returned the Diocese of Kingstown to independent status, appointing Father Gerard to be a residential bishop in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He will be ordained and installed at his cathedral in St. Vincent during the month of February. Bishop Gordon will continue as the Bishop of Bridgetown. The Diocese of Kingstown is a sister diocese to the Diocese of Duluth.

St. Raphael Knights’service projects

St. Raphael’s Knights of Columbus Council 6791 held its annual turkey bingo on Nov. 22 at St Raphael’s parish. One fresh turkey and several frozen turkeys went home for the holiday to lucky participants. The men added several in-ground tree stands for the exterior Christmas trees near the entrance to the parish. Councilmembers assisted two parishioners at two locations who were unable to do snow removal at their homes. The council also had Fourth Degree members riding a float with other council Fourth Degree Knights in the Christmas City of the North Parade in Duluth.

St. Joseph hosts Community Connect

The annual Community Connect event began as an initiative from St. Joseph’s Charity and Justice Commission seven years ago in Grand Rapids. The event’s goal is to reach out to anyone in need, no matter what the need, and to gather them at a single location in Itasca County where private and governmental agencies are prepared to serve their needs. All people are welcome: families,teens, individuals, homeless, retired, handicapped, unemployed and more.

Community Connect can be considered a “one-stop shopping” event where Itasca County residents can be connected to both caring volunteers and the services they need. In each of the seven years, the Charity and Justice Commission has recruited volunteers from the St. Joseph’s parish, other churches, Itasca Community College and concerned individuals. On average, 120 people volunteer to help, 70 agencies participate and 400 families are helped. In addition to educating and gathering new clients into their programs, the agencies use the registration data to assess the current housing, heating, legal aid and social services needs in Itasca County. Community Connect is generously funded by grants from the Blandin Foundation and other private sources.

As participants enter the CivicCenter Arena, “those in need” are greeted and registered by volunteers and then they proceed to the agency booths. Most families spend one to two hours pursuing assistance needs; some stay for four hours. Volunteers serve a free meal and provide a guide service, free family photography and free haircuts and give out new, handmade quilts. Volunteers also conduct exit interviews to assess how the event can be improved. Participants can also receive flu shots, large boxes of food staples and laundry detergent.

The Community Connect events are the result of year-round planning meetings between local churches and agency representatives. The meetings are held at St. Joseph’s Church.