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December 11, 2014

St. Nicholas Parish and the True Meaning of Christmas

Categories: Inspire Minute
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Among Catholic parishes served by Faith Direct, St. Nicholas in North Pole, Alaska has many distinctions. It’s the northernmost parish in the Faith Direct family and the coldest, with the average temperature in January plunging to a frigid -34 degrees. St. Nicholas is also the only Faith Direct parish just down the street from a 51-foot-tall, 900-pound statue of Santa Claus.

You’ll discover the Christmas spirit in North Pole quite literally at every turn, whether you take Mistletoe Drive to Donner then make a left onto Kris Kringle (which will take you to Blitzen Drive), or if you visit the parish on St. Nicholas Drive (via Santa Claus Lane, of course).

And this Christmas spirit is sought out by the rest of the world. “Children from all over send their letters to Santa at the North Pole,” says Rev. Robert Fath, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish. “People also send their Christmas cards here for a North Pole postmark, which keeps the Post Office ‘elves’ quite busy.”

Normal Life in North Pole

But when tourists have packed away their souvenirs and headed to the next destination – after Santa’s helpers have sorted through a day’s worth of cards and letters and closed up the Post Office for the night – North Pole is a small town like most any other, with a population of almost 2,000 and with the many blessings and abundant needs of any other community.

One of the ways St. Nicholas provides Christ-centered ministries is through the many families who support the parish via electronic giving. Almost 40% of contributing households use the parish’s eGiving program, which is administered by Faith Direct.

“We have many wonderful families and kind individuals who are always eager to serve,” says Rev. Fath, noting that annual events like the parish Bazaar and the summer “Pignic” are never short of volunteers. “But we also have people in dire need – people who are poor, jobless or homeless, or who are struggling with addictions and inner turmoil.”

StNicholasParishFor these people, St. Nicholas offers a variety of ministries – from helping provide Thanksgiving dinners to those in need to offering prayer and counseling for troubled families.

A Gift that Keeps Giving

The Faith Direct eGiving program has also helped St. Nicholas expand its church home with a new Pastoral Center, which was completed in 2012. “eGiving was a huge help with our building campaign, because it allowed parishioners to give to the project on a consistent basis without the risk of forgetting from one month to the next,” says Rev. Fath. “The Pastoral Center is now open, and with the help of eGiving and the consistency it provides, we are on a 5-year schedule to pay off the 15-year mortgage.”

The Reason for the Season

According to Rev. Fath, “For all the decorations and festivities, the true meaning of Christmas is sharing God’s love and helping others – so we at St. Nicholas do our best to make sure it’s Christmas year-round here in that sense as well.”

eGiving is essential to helping St. Nicholas sustain this spirit of kindness and compassion. “We’re thrilled with the consistency and efficiency we’ve discovered through eGiving,” says Rev. Fath. “Our program is helping us strengthen the ministries we offer to the North Pole community, during the Christmas season and throughout the year.”