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Minnesota National Guard
St. John Neumann named 'Yellow Ribbon Church'

When Dawn Daley’s husband, Lt. Col. Ted Daley, was deployed to Iraq in 2007, the mother of four children worried, “What if somebody’s sick and I have to go to work and I don’t have any time off left?”

From left, Lt. Col. Ted Daley, his wife, Dawn, and children, Julia, 5, Stephanie, 10, and Tim, 7, are recipients of support from their parish, St John Neumann in Eagan, through its ministry to military personnel and their families St John Neumann is one of two local churches to be named a Yellow Ribbon Church by the Minnesota National Guard
- Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Because there is not an Army base near her Eagan home, Daley didn’t expect much support from the community That’s why she was surprised when one day she received a phone call from someone asking if there was anything she needed

The caller turned out to be from her parish, St John Neumann in Eagan, which had recently begun a ministry to support military personnel and their fam­ilies through prayer and service What­ever she needed, she was told, the parish would try to help

“Psychologically, it gets you through [the absence of a spouse] knowing that there’s this big group that’s willing and cares and can help,” she said

Yellow Ribbon Church

On Jan 4, St John Neumann earned the distinction of being named a Yellow Ribbon Church by the Minnesota National Guard through its Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program The new program recognizes churches that create a network of support for service members and their families

St John Neumann is one of two churches that have received the honor to date North Heights Lutheran Church in Eagan is the other Both churches re­ceived proclamations signed by Gov Tim Pawlenty saying that they have made significant contributions to military families

“The Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program is a reminder that the support of service members cannot end when they return from a deployment and the yellow ribbons are untied,” it says on the program’s Web site, wwwBeyondTheYellowRibbonorg

The Minnesota National Guard initiated the program because churches typically have a well-established volunteer base, said 2nd Lt James Norton

“Say you’ve got a service member who is deployed and his family’s furnace goes out on the coldest day of the year,” Norton said “We want [Yellow Ribbon Churches] to be kind of the first responders”

To become a Yellow Ribbon Church, faith communities must submit an action plan to the National Guard for review “The primary focus with these action plans is sustainability,” Norton said “We don’t want this to be a flash in the pan program We want this program to endure”

Prayer, recognition, service

St John Neumann has been providing ministry to military families for about two years “We have three basic things we do: prayer, recognition and service,” said Mike Wold, Military Service Support Ministry team leader

Every weekend during Masses, parishioners pray for military families and for peace Deployed Soldiers’ photos also are displayed on a prayer board in the church’s gathering space

The parish holds recognition ceremonies for Soldiers who recently have returned from deployment and for all veterans on Veterans Day

There are also seminars at the parish to help Soldiers reintegrate into the community upon their return “When the veterans get back, they’re disconnected,” Wold said “It’s a big change and they kind of go through a period of chaos We try to help them get directed”

In addition, the parish has “adopted” the 34th Infantry Division National Guard unit, currently stationed in Basra, Iraq Parishioners pray for the Soldiers and have sentcare packages containing CDs, books and other items

And then there’s the service — everything from shoveling snow to baby-sitting to transportation The ministry team keeps a list of volunteers who stand at the ready for whenever a need arises

For example, when a Soldier’s mother called the parish to say her son had purchased a foreclosed home that needed a lot of work, the parish sent over a crew of volunteers to help with cleanup and painting

For Wold, himself a Vietnam veteran, the ministry is a way to give back to people who have sacrificed for the country “It all ties in with [the parish’s] mission to serve,” he said

Dawn Daley couldn’t be more grateful, she said While her husband was in Iraq, members of the parish baby-sat her three youngest children on several occasions and even provided computer support when she needed it At one point, a parishioner showed up at her doorstep with about $100 worth of groceries, she said

“They even offered to come and wash my windows” before her son’s graduation party, Daley said

After Ted returned home, the parish gave the couple restaurant gift certificates and offered to send them on a retreat

“They did a ton,” Dawn said “Every­one was just so giving and so nice I was very appreciative They probably would have done anything for me if I asked”

By Julie Carroll
Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Article source: http://thecatholicspirit.com

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