Holy Trinity parishioners serve others with humility, faith
By Walt Schaefer
For The Catholic Telegraph
Since September, 2014, when Barb and George Freudenberg led the effort to establish a St. Vincent de Paul Conference to serve Norwood, 281 families have been visited and assisted by the 16 member group — all parishioners at Holy Trinity Parish.
“We do meet people face-to-face. They are not a number. They don’t stand in line. We get their names. We introduce ourselves. We ask if we can come in and we talk to them,” said George Freudenberg, who works in information technology computer support. The couple has lived in Norwood for 20 years.
“A lot of the people we serve are folks who lost their jobs. They are down and out. There are three kinds of people we help,” George said. “Some are situational. They lost their jobs, or there are health issues. Then, there’s generational. These are people on Welfare. We try to help by sending them to some of the services St. Vincent de Paul offers — education, marketing, job training —classes on how to interview, for example. The third is continual. Often this is a medical issue for elderly people or people who just really can’t make it — those who are still struggling within the system.
“Lots of times, all these people need someone to talk to and we are good at listening,” George said. “They’ll just pour out their hearts. We do what we can.”
Barb Freudenberg, project manager for a technology company, said being “able to help people is a humbling experience. It feels really good to hear their stories. A lot of times these people really need to talk and tell their stories more than they need to get something from us.
“We always let them see the face of Christ in us and we see the face of Christ in them,” Barb said. We are all the body of Christ. We are all together. We pray before we go in a home to ask Jesus to help the house. They’re not all Catholic… (but) we always say the Hail Mary, the Our Father… We have not had anyone who has said ‘No I do not want you to pray with me’. They are all very grateful for the response they have received — the fact that we actually show up and help and offer services. For many of them the situation is that we are meeting them at a time when they need to get over a hump. These are people who are down and out who want to try to back on their feet,” Barb said
“Whenever we come back from visiting, we realize we get more out of it than we gave. We couldn’t do it without the support of our team,” George said.
A few years back there was no team. The northern part of Norwood was served by St. Vincent de Paul from Nativity Parish in Pleasant Ridge; the south by Bellarmine Chapel at Xavier University.
“About five years ago, Father Ray Kellerman, our pastor, invited a number of people to meet and he
brought in some Vincentian’s from Nativity Parish. Everyone said they wanted to help found our own (conference) but they did not want to be an officer. Then, about a year ago, Father Ray talked to Deacon Henry Jacquez about getting a conference started and I said I would help,” George explained. So, we got together with several people. We agreed we could do it. We had a couple of meetings and they all said they thought I would be good at leading it… I said I would. Then I told Barb she had to help. We support each other. We’re a team.”
“In the beginning,’ Barb said “I did not go to the meetings. George told me he wanted to get the St. Vincent de Paul conference started and he had to be president. He said we needed a vice president. He came out one day and said, ‘Guess what? You’re vice president.’ That’s what I get for not attending a meeting.”
The Holy Trinity Conference started with six or seven volunteers. Deacon Henry was spiritual director; Mary Seis, treasurer; Lisa Humble, recording secretary, and Allan Cook takes care of aid requests.
Nativity’s conference volunteered to mentor Holy Trinity “so we followed them on their visits for probably nine months. Then we decided to start on our own. We take care of the northern part of Norwood from the lateral north — the old Nativity portion. Bellarmine is still doing the southern part. We have contacted their president and we have contacted the district president and we are thinking about taking it over.”
The Freudenbergs also are active in other Holy Trinity ministries. They serve as:
• “Adopt-a-Gardeners” — parishioners tending
the many flower and plant beds on the
• Eucharistic ministers — Barb is a team coordinator
• Servers with grandsons John and Jeremy.
• Arts and Environment Committee members who change church decorations for each liturgical season.
• Tuition assistance for Saint Nicholas Academy, the school serving Holy Trinity, St. John the Evangelist and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parishes. Tuition assistance is funded by Market Day. Barb coordinates with one other volunteer.
• RCIA — a cooperative effort with Nativity Parish. George serves as a team member, presenter and mentor.
• Summer Spiritual Enrichment Committee members, led by Deacon Henry Jacquez.
• Network of Care, established to extend the Holy Trinity Parish family into neighborhoods and homes of the families of the parish. Sending birthday cards, Christmas and Easter cards, ‘Get Well’ cards, bringing meals, mowing lawns and more. Barb and George were asked to be neighborhood coordinators.
• Facilitators for the FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication Understanding and Support) for newly engaged couples. Barb and George meet with the couples.
This Everyday Evangelist story originally appeared in the July 2015 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.