GAGETOWN — In the basement of St. Agatha Church, the sewing machines are humming and a team of dedicated volunteers is busy sewing hundreds of colorful and original “Little Dresses.” They are being made for children in impoverished countries, and for those who receive them, they are perhaps the only new clothes they will ever own.
At the center of this project — and so many others at St. Agatha Parish — is Edna Kujawski; a parishioner and volunteer, retired school teacher and missionary, wife and stepmother. She brought the project to the parish several years ago and it didn’t take long to assemble a team and begin the work of creating the simple pillow dresses.
“It really invigorates us to see pictures of the children in our dresses,” Kujawski said. “We’ve been fortunate that many communities have sent us photographs. It is fun work, but when you see the smiling children it just makes you want to create even more. This year our goal is 600 dresses.”
For Kujawski, there is a special connection with the children in the African communities where her “Little Dresses” are delivered. More than 40 years ago, as a teacher working on her master’s degree, Kujawski traveled to Guyana as a missionary. She taught there for 15 months and along with two friends was among the first women teachers in West Africa.
Kujawski returned to the United States with an even stronger commitment to the social mission of the church. She has lived her life in service to others and continues to serve even today.
In addition to ministering to the African communities, Kujawski is the coordinator of the food pantry at St. Agatha. Since taking over 12 years ago, she has helped it to grow and become what it is today, providing two tons of food each month to families in need of assistance. On cold days, soup is made for those who come to the parish pantry. They are invited to stay for a sharing of food, faith and fellowship.
Kujawski also collects coats, hats and gloves for children, organizes the giving tree at Christmas and searches garage sales in the summer, looking for items for those in need.
Bishop Joseph R. Cistone will present the 2012 Bishop Murphy Award to Kujawski during the sixth annual Bishop’s Charity Ball on Friday, April 27, at Horizon’s Conference Center, 6200 State St. in Saginaw Township. The award is presented annually to a person who, through the example of service in their life, fulfills Jesus’ Great Commission to promote and pass on the faith.
“I am so happy for Edna,” said Sr. Dorothy Ann Blasko, O.P., St. Agatha’s pastoral administrator. “She reaches out to people in need and doesn’t turn anyone away.
She has done so much for this community and parish and there is a lot she does behind the scenes too.”
For Kujawski, it is all just a matter of following the right example.
“Jesus set the example,” she said. “He asks us to give of ourselves. Whatever our capabilities and gifts, we are to use them to go forth and serve His people.”
For tickets to the charity ball, or more information, call 799-7910. The ball starts with a sponsor’s reception at 5:30 p.m., with the guest reception and silent auction starting at 6 p.m. Dinner is at 7 p.m. and the band starts playing at 9:30 p.m. The proceeds will help parishes and community initiatives that serve the poor and needy in the diocese.