Ecumenical effort provides apartment for Afghan family

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Elaine Hulsman, a parishioner of Saint John Paul II who led the fundraising efforts, followed up on items the family will need that were not donated. “We have had very generous donors. People gave grocery cards and money to buy what we need, ”she said. (Photos recorded by Kayla Boyd)

Parishioners in five churches in Hikes Point take the lyrics to the popular Christmas carol “Joy to the World” seriously.

On December 21, members of Saint John Paul II Church, Saint Paul Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ Saint Andrew, Buechel Park Baptist Church and Holy Church -Marthe “let every heart prepare a room for him” by setting up an apartment for an Afghan family who arrived in Louisville on Thursday evening, just two days before Christmas.

Churches have worked together in the past through the Francis Center, an outreach ministry at St. John Paul II Church, according to Elaine Hulsman, the parishioner who led the effort at St. John Paul.

Kathy Leichty reached the top shelf of a cabinet to put away the dishes given to a new Afghan family. The family will arrive late December 23.

Hulsman and Ursuline Sister Ruth Ann Haunz attended an information session hosted by Catholic Charities in early September and decided to start a collection of items to furnish an apartment for an arriving family.

“It’s very personal to me because I have two brothers who are retired from the Air National Guard who went to Afghanistan,” Hulsman said. “This is something I have to do, reach out and help.”

Sister Haunz said the needs of evacuated families were something the churches in Hikes Point could meet.

Joe Ford, a parishioner of St. John Paul II, repaired a kitchen drawer full of donated kitchen utensils.

“It reminds me of the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan,” she said, standing in the apartment that will soon house the Afghan family. “People help people because it’s the right thing to do.”

Margo Borders, a parishioner from Sainte-Marthe, said: “We are all aware of what is going on in the world and we all need a home.

Kathy Leichty, a member of Buechel Park Baptist, unpacked the kitchen items and found them a home in the cupboards. Nearby, Hulsman made a list of additional items the family would need, such as a toilet roll holder and pencils.

“Jesus was an immigrant,” Leichty said.

“He was also a refugee when he went to Egypt,” Sister Haunz added.

Elaine Hulsman installed burners in their slots on the stove as Lauren Goldener of Catholic Charities watched.

Lauren Goldener, community engagement specialist with Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, also helped set up the apartment.

“It’s really cool to see a bunch of denominations together,” she said. “It’s a beautiful image of the church. “

Hulsman echoed Goldener’s sentiment.

“It’s part of what Pope Francis wants us to do, to reach out in an ecumenical way,” she said.

“And follow the gospel,” Sister Haunz added.

Lauren Goldener, left, Kathy Leichty, center, and Jackie Shahroudie, right, unpacked cooking and cleaning supplies in the apartment being fitted out for an Afghan family evacuated on December 21.

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