Like most parishes, St. Andre Bessette Parish has an active group of women who serve not only the parish but the community.

In this case, the women come from three different groups, originally formed in the three churches the parish serves: Sacred Heart of Jesus in Troy, St. Vincent de Paul in North Troy and St. Ignatius of Loyola in Lowell.

They have their own traditional activities — like dinners and fund raisers — but they also work together for their parish and civic communities.

A popular activity in Troy is an annual harvest dinner and quilt raffle. Sacred Heart parishioner Madeleine Morrissette has been hand-stitching an annual quilt for almost 40 years; Helen Before puts the pieces of the quilt together. “To give to the church is a good thing,” Morrissette said, noting her love for her church. Plus, she added, Holy Communion and community are important.

Carmen Sanville is president of the Ladies of Sacred Heart. She said there is a need for the charitable works members of all the women’s groups do from dinners after funerals, to gift cards for people in need to meals for community members to parish support.

A joint effort of the three women’s groups was a “United in Faith” cookbook.

Funds the women raise through their various efforts also are used to support pro-life causes and Catholic and religious education.

“They are works of mercy,” said Rose Bathalon, a member of the Sacred Heart group, adding that she enjoys “working together” with the other women on their charitable projects and hopes some of their outreach will evangelize.

“I hope people realize the church community can be a big help in many ways,” commented Alice Gonyaw-Piette, treasurer of the Ladies of Sacred Heart. “The church should be like a big family helping each other.”

And in this northern Vermont parish, it is.

—Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.

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