The Panong family hold signs of encouragement at the food distribution event at Holy Family Parish in Port St. Lucie, May 14, 2020. (PHOTO BY ALEEN STANTON)

Parish ministries partner to feed families

Port St. Lucie  |  The religious education department and the St. Vincent de Paul Society at Holy Family Parish in Port St. Lucie came together during the COVID-19 pandemic to serve those suffering in the parish. 

Mary Acevedo, the parish’s director of Religious Education, organized a food distribution drive May 14, 2020, to provide food assistance for the families of students in the religious education classes. The drive-up distribution followed the recommended guidelines from the Center of Disease Control. All involved practiced social distancing, wore masks, and took caution in wearing gloves. Families receiving food remained in their cars, while parish staff placed donations in their vehicles. 

“This is absolutely amazing and such a blessing to my family,” said Stephanie Pignatone, mother of two students in classes. “I am very, very grateful. I don’t know what I would do without my church.”

To prepare for the event, Acevedo sent a message to parish families, calling on Christ’s mission to help those in need. “As Catholics, we are called to follow the example Jesus set for us and strive to ease the burdens of our fellow man. We hope that the gifts you are receiving today will help bring joy to your family,” the message read.  

The bags each family took home included a gift card made possible through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a matching donation made anonymously by parishioners, non-perishable food items donated by religious education volunteers, the parish chapter of the Council of Catholic Women, staff members and parish clergy. Other anonymous donors provided toilet paper and paper towels. 

Acevedo also shared that a blessed medal for each of the students was included in the generous donations. Staff and volunteers held up signs to remind the students of how much they are missed and loved. The Panong family volunteered at the event holding up signs that read, “Keep calm. God is with you.”    

Thelma Panong, mother of two religious education students Thea and Felix, said, “I am happy to be here today to let people know that they are not alone. We are all in this together.” 

Thea, 11, was joyful. “It makes me feel happy to help people that need it.”

For more information about Holy Family Church, visit or call 772-335-2385. Follow the parish on Facebook @HolyFamilyCCPSLFL.