Mask Ministry at St. Paul’s

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This week, Lucas and Gavin Kopreski (pictured) spoke with Ryan (their dad) and St. Paul’s parishioner Brian McGunagle over Zoom. The topic: the ongoing community ministry of mask-making and distribution at St. Paul’s.

Ryan: My first question, and I’ll start with Lucas, is: what is the goal of the mask ministry?

Lucas: To spread masks around the city, and make sure everyone can feel safe. So we can help to provide that.

Ryan: Gavin, why do you think this is important?

Gavin: I think that it is important so that the people feel safe, because then they won’t be going out of their homes without a mask to do the things that they need to do, like getting food, even though they could get it online and have it delivered, some things they just need to do, like go to the dump or the pharmacy.

Ryan: Okay, so Brian, maybe you could tell us a little bit about the process of the mask ministry, because you’re the supply chain, or the distributor.

Brian: It all started when Lucas was in confirmation. It was an idea that I had, of how we can help the community when COVID was just starting, and how we could reach out to the community in a time where we can’t really physically interact with people. And so the idea was having this clothesline where we could provide people masks. The other part of it was that people in the community could donate masks and make them and come themselves and hang them up on the clothesline, which is what happened. And so we started off with masks that Liz Wernqvist [a St. Paul’s parishioner] made. She makes many of the masks, and I think she also donates some to the senior center in Norwalk.

We collected those first sets of masks, and we set up the clothes line, and we put them up, and we waited to see what would happen. Within a day, the first set of masks we put out were all gone. And so we realized that people needed these masks. So I reached out to Bob Duff, who’s a member of our church and is also a state senator of Connecticut, and I asked him if he could ask people if they’re willing to donate masks. Other organizations like Nami, which is a mental health group, have donated a lot of masks that they’ve hung up directly on the clothesline.

Ryan: When Brian gets the masks from Liz or other contributors, he drops them off with us, and then Lucas, what have you done with the masks? What kinds of procedures and methods do you use to make sure that you’re handling the masks which people will be wearing to stay safe?

Lucas: We take the masks and we put it in a clear plastic bag and to be safe, we put on a mask and we wash our hands and wear rubber gloves.

Brian: What do you when you’re putting them in the bags? What are you thinking about?

Gavin: I’m thinking about the prayers that we include in the baggies, how this mask will bring you hope and peace.

Ryan: How many people do you think you’ve helped with the mask ministry?

Lucas: Well, I’ve heard that they disappear so fast. I put together about… honestly, like 150 or 200.

Brian: We started in June. June 14.

Ryan: Wow. So in just about three and a half months, you might have prepared 200 masks and helped a couple hundred people in Norwalk be better protected from Covid-19. That’s really awesome.

Brian: I think this is really good. I think of the idea that church isn’t just on Sunday, it’s not just at 11 o’clock, and we get to help participate in bringing church out into the community through this ministry with the masks. People might not know about St. Paul’s or they might not know about you know, Jesus or God. And so here’s an opportunity where we can help people. We get to share a little bit about what St. Paul’s is about. And so I think that’s what’s really interesting about what we’re doing. And the fact that they keep disappearing means they’re going somewhere to help people.

Ryan: I agree. They’re going to the right places for people in need. That is such a powerful message to the community of what St. Paul’s is all about.

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