We have several outreach projects throughout the year. We are a host church for Family Promise of Missoula, which is an ecumenical program that helps homeless families. Each of 13 churches in the Missoula area will take turns housing up to three families for a week at a time. We host four – five weeks out of each year at our Parish. Volunteer opportunities include setting up and taking down sleeping spaces, laundry, providing meals and or activities for the families and overnight hosting. For more information, go to micmt.org.
There are two groups from our parish that volunteer monthly at the Poverello Center – one group cooks and serves a monthly meal and another group serves an already prepared meal two evenings per month.
A group of volunteers work at the Montana Food Bank Network once per month, sorting or re-packaging food into containers that are taken by the Food Bank Network to nearly 200 participating agencies throughout the state of Montana and at the Missoula Food Bank repacking items into small containers that go into the Empower Packs that go home with needy students to ensure that they receive nourishing food items throughout the weekend.
Each year we have the Ministry of Hands in the Fall in which groups of volunteers go out to the homes of disabled or elderly members of the community to offer assistance with yard work, window cleaning, etc.
Our largest project of the year is the Christmas Giving Tree. Just before Thanksgiving, we put up Christmas trees in the church on which hang tags for children and adults who are in need and we provide them with items such as clothing, gifts, toiletries and food boxes. The names are gathered from agencies around Missoula, such as Early Head Start, Backpacks for Kids, Council Groves Low Income Apartments, and the Blackfeet Reservation and last year we added Watson’s Childrens Center and Mountain Home. Gifts are collected and distributed the week before Christmas. This project requires A LOT of help but it is very rewarding for all involved.
St Francis Xavier has also participated in Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, Jubilee USA, and Share Our Strength. We also help support our sister parish, Santa Rita de Casia, in Cartagena, Colombia both financially and with cultural exchanges, such as the recent visit of Father Matt with 3 parishioners from Loyola High School to see Pope Francis when he visits Colombia.
We have two houses that our parish helps support which house refugee families. Currently the Holy Family House has a family of 5 from Democratic Republic of Congo and Rachel’s House is home to a single Mom and her 5 children from Eritrea.
Each month, our parish provides Aid to the Needy for families and individuals who call or come to our door looking for assistance with items such as emergency lodging, gas, rent or utilitiy assistance, bus fare, phone minutes, prescriptions, food and clothing.