Deacon’s friend thankful to help out

Deacon Rick Caruso

Deacon Rick Caruso has a friend who came into an unexpected financial windfall. She wasn’t sure exactly what to do with the money, but she knew that other people needed it more than she did.

“She’s not a parishioner but knew I was involved in different causes in my ministry, and she wanted me to help others who were in need,” Deacon Caruso said.

Over the past year, the anonymous donor has given several thousand dollars.

The funds have gone to help people served by Stephen Ministry and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society at Saint John Neumann, Assumption and Sacred Heart parishes near Pittsburgh.

“I was really overwhelmed by her generosity,” Deacon Caruso said.

Stephen Ministers offer care to people who are hurting, often going through a crisis or difficulty in life.

“They try to be Jesus’ hands, feet and heart,” Deacon Caruso said, “helping people move forward in their journeys.”

Often times those receiving help have experienced a loss in their lives—loss of a job, a loved one, or independence due to health or other challenges.

Stephen Ministers offer a caring Christian presence, providing support as they use their gifts in meaningful ministry. Parishes carry out Christ’s commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you” in a powerful and practical way.

The unexpected funds also have benefited those assisted by the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, which provides rent, food, utility bills, clothing, furniture and other items to those in need. Thrift stores sell donated goods at a low price, helping to raise money.

The first Saint Vincent de Paul conference in Pittsburgh was established in 1852, less than two decades after the lay Catholic organization was founded in France.

Deacon Caruso has told his friend where her funds have gone, and many of those receiving assistance have written her, expressing gratitude for her compassion.

“She is just a very generous person who is acting out of kindness to help people,” Deacon Caruso said.

“In a way it’s a social justice issue,” he said, “treating the poor with dignity, looking to see what their needs are, asking how to help address them, and acting on that without hesitation.

“Every time she gives me money, she thanks me for the opportunity to serve other people.”

Stephen Ministry volunteers in a training session at St. John Neumann Parish in 2019.