A Community Pillar of Support
By Kelly Medinger
St. Veronica’s Church uses Catholic Activities grant to replace their roof
A clean red brick façade with a statue of St. Veronica helping Jesus, surrounded by manicured green grass and shrubbery, stands proudly on Cherry Hill Road in Baltimore.
About St. Veronica’s
For over 75 years, St. Veronica’s Catholic Congregation has been a community of worship in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore City. The Church was established by the Joesephites, a religious community of Catholic priests and brothers, committed to serving the African American community. Today, it serves 230 registered families and attracts parishioners from Cherry Hill, West Port, Curtis Bay, Brooklyn, and Port Covington.
St. Veronica’s is a small church with no paid staff. Nearly half of the congregation volunteers in management, ministry, and outreach services. “People always want to come forth and do something for our parish, and that gives me great joy,” comments Fr. Stephen Ositimehin, Pastor. “Our church doesn’t belong to any one person, it belongs to all of us,” he shares.
Raising the Roof
Realizing that the original roof installed in 1954 needed to be replaced, the Church organized a “Raise the Roof” campaign to raise money for a new roof. With support from parishioners, alumni, their sister parish (Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City), the Knott Foundation, and others connected to the mission, St. Veronica’s raised over $150,000 for the project.
“Everybody who pledged to the campaign ended up paying more than they pledged,” shares Cathy McClain, Church Secretary. “When other parishes were struggling to make ends meet during the COVID pandemic, our parish was lucky,” she explains. Some people donated their entire economic stimulus check to the campaign, while others gave what they would have spent on their commute to work, since they were working virtually.
Even the roofing contractor managed to save money by pairing St. Veronica’s job with another one nearby, which enabled them to purchase the necessary lumber at a bulk rate. This was extremely helpful, as lumber prices increased greatly during the pandemic.
Often described as a leader and stabilizing force in the community, St. Veronica’s provides much more than mass, sacraments, and Catholic fellowship. A food pantry, thrift store, healthy cooking classes, summer camp, eviction prevention services, and holiday outreach to families in need are just some of the ways the parish helps the broader community.
“It’s really hard to preach to someone if they’re hungry,” says McClain. “We realize we have to give back in order to receive. Since St. Veronica’s was established, we have always felt it was our responsibility to care for the corporal and spiritual needs of our community.”