Fr. Bill Thaden
“When the COVID-19 crisis began, I found that there were several younger families that struggled and were living off of their savings,” says Fr. Bill Thaden, pastor at Sacred Heart Chapel in Lorain, one of two parishes in the Diocese formed for Hispanic ministry. Fr. Bill explains that the parish is a mix of cultures that includes Mexican and Puerto Rican families. Many of these families were hit first and hardest during the current crisis stemming from lay-offs in the restaurant business and a reduction in the construction industry.
To help people in his community, Fr. Bill applied for assistance from the Emergency Response Fund, which was established by the Diocese of Cleveland to provide resources for parishes so that the pastor could respond to the immediate needs of people impacted by COVID-19. Fr. Bill reached out to the network of people in his parish to find individuals and families that were especially vulnerable. In addition to everyday expenses, many in his community are paying lawyers to work on their immigration cases; and those expenses do not stop even when people are laid off.
As of the end of May, Fr. Bill has been able to help stabilize 25 families with nearly $10,000 of assistance from the Emergency Response Fund. “There has been a lot of blessing during this time. God gives us grace for the moment,” says Fr. Bill.
People’s gratitude is inspiring to Fr. Bill. He is thankful for the freedom as a pastor to make a judgment to do what is best for people on a case by case basis. “One woman that I visited has a husband who goes to Mexico twice a year to renew his work visa. During those times, she is alone with their two sons, both of whom have autism. The boys attend our faith formation program at the parish, which has been temporarily suspended. During my visit, I was able to help the family economically, bless their home, and pray with them. It was a wonderful pastoral encounter,” says Fr. Bill.
Fr. Bill continues: “I am moved and humbled by people’s desire to help others in these times. I don’t know who the donors are, but if they desired to reach people in their moment of need, they have achieved that and have allowed pastors to help. For that, I am deeply grateful.”
To make a donation to the Emergency Response Fund, go to www.CatholicCommunity.org/response