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LARSON: More saints than Patrick

I don't know what St. Patrick did to rate his own day on the secular calendar, inspiring people of every ethnic background to parade around in his honor while thousands of other saints go completely ignored. So I'm here to pay tribute to some of those unsung saints, particularly those whom many Gwinnettians honor by doing more than just chug green beer in their memory.

For example, St. John Neuman Catholic Church in Lilburn helps people find jobs through their career ministry. St. Lawrence -- yes, in Lawrenceville -- comforts the community via cancer and AIDS support groups, along with Rainbows for children whose lives have been touched by the death of a loved one.

At St. Oliver Plunkett in Snellville, acts of love include matching up disabled folks with St. Francis Service Dogs, loaning professional clothing to women in need through My Sister's Closet, and sponsoring PATH: Post Abortion Treatment and Healing. And for fun, they've formed a drama ministry which performs mystery dinner theatres throughout the year.

At St. Marguerite d'Youville in Lawrencevillethe military is the focus of much deserved attention. Their current project is loading up MP3 players with inspirational hymns and messages to send overseas. They also provide wheelchairs for veterans and other people in need. And my regular readers already know that St. Marguerite, which houses the Polish Apostolate, is the home of the biggest pierogi festival in the South!

At St. Monica's in Buford, Monica's House was of tremendous assistance -- even providing a car -- to Nicole Maddox and her daughter, Janiah, a quadruple amputee, about whom I recently wrote. Further outreach includes 25 food boxes a month for Sheltering Arms Families through their One Harvest Food ministries and regular visits to the elderly and people in prison.

St. Edward's in Lawrenceville is known for showcasing local talent in their art gallery. The current exhibit, arranged by curator Mikki Root Dillon, is a collection of lighthouses painted by Majory Foster.

All of these saints' names, though not as famous as Patrick, are still well known throughout the county for their contributions to larger organizations such as St. Vincent de Paul and Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry. They also invite community groups such as Boy Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous and ESOL classes to use their facilities for meetings and activities.

And all of them, along with Lilburn's St. Stephen the Martyr and the all inclusive All Saints (Don't you love it!) and even our own St. Patrick's in Norcross have been busy serving up their traditional Lenten fish fries! And they're not just for members only. Neighbors stop in for a night out. Fish fry groupies float from church to church to compare the cooking. Local politicians hang our to hear what their constituents have to say over cornbread and catfish. If you haven't partaken of any if these feasts, this Friday will be your last chance. And I don't think you'll miss the green beer.

Susan Larson is a writer and fish fry lover from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.

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