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Marygove Welcomes 1st Friday Ladies For Lunch & Fellowship

Ladies from St. Rose parish (above) enjoy the First Friday mass and lunch at Marygrove. Around the table from left to right are Aurelia Nickrent, Annette Lammers, Jan Perry, Jan Daming, Peggy Key, Mary Ellen Murphy, Noreen (Sis) Moran, and Ruth Umhoeher.

By Carol Arnett

One of North County’s best lunches  is available only on the first Friday of the month on the campus of Marygrove. For over 30 years, Marygrove friends and supporters have been meeting on the first Friday of the month for 11:30 mass at the chapel, followed by lunch in the dining room.

Sr. Helen Negri, director of Marygrove, said the group has been going since at least 1983, when she arrived. “We had a group of businessman coming to the early mass and breakfast, and some of their wives asked if we could do the same at lunchtime,” she said. The first Friday early mass and breakfast is still popular.

Negri said the lunches provide a chance for volunteers to see how their help matters. It also lets the community hear about what is happening at Marygrove. “People want to help. This gives them the opportunity to see who they’re helping,” Negri said. Marygrove students help serve the meal, and Negri said they want to serve and consider it an honor to be chosen to help.

Negri said the mass and lunch also give the community the chance to pray for Marygrove. “Our volunteers do many hands-on, practical things,” she said. “But we also like to have people come pray with us and for us.”

Marygrove serves approximately 170 boys and girls. The mean age is 15; they currently have 30 under age 13. Children come from western Illinois and all of Missouri.

Negri said they also work with a few young adults. She said that Marygrove did not cut ties after a certain age. “We don’t make them leave; if they still need our help, we give it,” she said.

Chief Development Officer Catherine Feldt said that the mass and lunch was a way to maintain relationships with supporters. “We have a core group that comes every month. Some, but not all, are volunteers.”

“Our volunteers think its both their responsibility and their honor to help take care of these kids,” Feldt said. The lunches, she said, are a way to let them know that they are appreciated.

Feldt stressed that the mass and lunch is open to all, not just volunteers. “We are a part of this community,” she said, “and this is one way for us to give back to our community.”

At left, June Klenc (left), Clarann Ruhmann (center), and Margaret Connors (right), volunteer at Marygrove and enjoy the First Friday lunches.

Margaret Connors, June Klenc, and Clarann Ruhmann all said they had been coming to mass and lunch for years. The three women volunteer at Marygrove in the clothing room. “We’re here every Thursday,” Connors said. “We sort through donations. We keep some of the clothes for the kids here and sell the rest at the rummage sale.” Marygrove holds rummage sales every two months as a fundraiser.

Ruhmann said she enjoyed working in the clothing room. “Some of these kids don’t have a lot when they come here. They can come to the clothing room and find what they need,” she said.

Klenc added that they like to keep the room neat and the clothes clean and ready, so that the children who need them will enjoy picking out what they need.

Another table was full of parishioners from St. Rose parish. The group comes every month to enjoy mass and lunch. Several of the women live alone and said they enjoy both the company and the meal.

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