Into That Good Charity

The Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas, once wrote “He who possesses more charity will see God more perfectly.” This charity can take many forms and be exercised in many ways, as God puts no restrictions on good works. In Ruston, LA, LaTech student-parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, known as members of ACTS (Association of Catholic Tech Students), chose the form of Operation Help to exercise charity.

Operation Help began in a social justice meeting with the ACTS group. Four members, Abbey Simoneaux, Derek Warden, Sam Tatro and David Chatelain, set out to develop ideas to reach out to the parish and local community.  What was born in this meeting became Operation Help: a combination scavenger hunt, food drive and student social event. A list of needy families and needed foods and items was generated by a member of the parish council, Solidad Broyles, who then gave it to the chair of the Social Justice Committee at ACTS. A list of clues and activities was then created and teams of ACTS members searched the city to collect these items from stores and perform the specific tasks assigned by the coordinator (such as playing a flute or clucking like a chicken). The first team back to the E. Donn Piatt Catholic Center won a prize. Resident-parishioners donated any items they wished after the scavenger hunt. The items collected were separated, boxed and distributed to families in the Ruston area.

It has been over three years since that first Social Justice Meeting with ACTS, and Operation Help continues. This year, student-parishioners and resident-parishioners of St. Thomas Aquinas Church collected food for 12 families. Student-parishioners are still leading the mission, Mrs. Broyles continues to generate the list and resident-parishioners continue to donate items and funds to the cause. And though three of the founding members have graduated from LaTech and left Ruston, they feel a great sense of joy that the program continues on even after they’re gone.  Operation Help is now a student-led tradition of the Campus Ministry Program at St. Thomas Aquinas Church.

The dozens of ACTS members and resident-parishioners that participate in the event every year can attest that Saint Thomas Aquinas was right: they do see God more perfectly.  They see Him in their actions, in every box of food delivered, in each other and in themselves.

by Derek Warden

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