On August 17th, Deacon Tim, Joe Montalbano, John Miksa and Dr. Robert Niebergall of St. Bernard’s drove to Webbers Falls and Moffett to deliver and install the Blessing Boxes. When the additional two Blessing Boxes are finished, they will be delivered to Immaculate Conception Parish in Hugo.
Here’s the story of how Saint Bernard Church in Tulsa built and installed the first of its two “Blessing Boxes” in eastern Oklahoma.
The Peace & Justice Ministry at St. Bernard Church received a donation from a parishioner in early January, 2019 to be used for food relief. Deacon Sullivan asked Mary Lynn Lufkin, Director of Disaster Relief for Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma, to identify several options for providing food for the needy in southeastern Oklahoma.
Among the options listed by Mary Lynn was “Blessing Boxes,” which are large boxes typically placed outdoors in which people can donate free, nonperishable foods and personal hygiene products which can then be accessed by people in need. When Deacon Tim gave the generous parishioner the list of options, the donor chose Blessing Boxes as his preferred use of the donated funds.
Joe Montalbano, a parishioner of Saint Bernard’s known to be a perfectionist when it came to carpentry, agreed to construct 4 Blessing Boxes. Mary Lynn began asking people if they knew of a church or other organization which would make good use of a Blessing Box. Deacon Tim sent a letter to virtually all of the pastors in the diocese advising them that Blessing Boxes were available at no cost.
Fr. Lawrence Nwachukwu, Pastor of St. Joseph Church in Webbers Falls, a community hard hit by the severe flooding in May, told Mary Lynn that they would be grateful to have a Blessing box there. Mary Lynn also received a positive response from Lindsie Dyer, a school counselor at Moffett Public Schools.
The situation in Moffett was made to order for the Blessing Box from Saint Bernard’s. Jimmie Owens, the school superintendent in Moffett, had started construction of a Blessing Box when he died unexpectedly in February of 2013. The box was completed and dedicated on May 4th. Three weeks later, the flood waters filled all of Moffett with over 7 feet of water. The Blessing Box, which had been bolted to an exterior wall, was washed down the Arkansas River and never located.
Dr. Bob Niebergall, John Miksa, Gene Simeroth, Kyle, and Joe Montalbano at St Joseph Church, Webbers Falls
Deacon Tim, Bob Montalbano, and Shawn Weatherton (Teacher), Amy Matthews (Teacher), Lindsie Dyer (Counselor), Shannon Edwards (Nurse) and Kim Netz (Healthy Living Program) of Moffett Schools