Changing the world, 130 acts at a time

In the summer movie “Evan Almighty,” an ever-clever God challenges a modern-day Noah with how to change the world. God’s answer? One random act of kindness at a time. While they haven’t used this wisdom to build an ark as in the movie, St. Mary Parish in Franklin is doing its part in changing the world.

St. Mary’s is celebrating its 130th anniversary in a unique way. Through a project, entitled “130 Acts of Kindness,” St. Mary’s parishioners are working to make their community a better place.

“If you weren’t in the habit of doing something nice, then maybe you will start to do it because of this program,” said Helen Brunell, the St. Mary’s parishioner who initiated the project.

As its title implies, the program involves 130 good deeds which individuals and families aim to accomplish throughout the year. It is meant to remind parishioners to do something extra in their daily routines. The idea is that every little bit counts in making the parish community a better place and in improving the days of those who benefit from the acts.

These are “extra acts of kindness that you do quietly at home or throughout the community,” said Brunell.

One key aspect, she said, is that the project allows as many parishioners possible to participate by allowing people to work individually, at their own convenience.

“You don’t need to go to a meeting and you don’t need to show up any place to participate,” she said.

To keep track of their progress, parishioners check off good deeds on easily identifiable yellow sheets available at the church. Once a parishioner has finished, the bottom of the sheet that contains their name and contact information can be torn off and dropped in a deposit box in the church.

St. Mary’s began the project in February, the month of its 130th anniversary, and since then one parishioner has completed all the acts. But other participants still have plenty of time. With this program, Brunell said, St. Mary’s has extended its anniversary celebration throughout the year, giving parishioners until February of next year to work towards this goal.

Brunell pointed out that each act counts only once towards the tally, no matter how great or small the effort invested. She suggested that acts can include such things as reciting an extra decade of the rosary, extending a courtesy while driving or setting aside one dollar each day for a charitable cause.

St. Mary’s parishioners don’t need to build an ark to change the world, they can do it by celebrating their 130th anniversary one good deed at a time.