Fr. Ken Alt, C.PP.S., pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Trinity, Ind., writes about a unique project that his parish took on this Lent:

“Come on! Get my goat!”  It all started on Ash Wednesday as a Lenten challenge and opportunity for the practices of almsgiving, sacrificial love and penance, when the people of Holy Trinity Parish in Trinity, Ind., were asked to partner with Heifer International to purchase some goats for poor or needy families in Third World countries.

A good portion of families at Holy Trinity are farmers who raise livestock, which means they understand the importance of these resources for food, family financial security, and the hope or promise of good things for the future. Global issues of hunger, poverty and hopelessness are impacting the lives of too many of our brothers and sisters around the world. With surprising levels of support and generosity, the people of Holy Trinity Parish raised $2,977 for Heifer International, which made it possible to purchase 24 goats at $120 each.

A special “feed bucket” was incorporated into the Lenten display in front of church, where people could drop loose change or other donations in support of the goat project.  Parents related stories of how they challenged their children at home to grow into a greater likeness of Jesus with some improvements in their behavior during Lent. If there were missteps and failures in this regard, the children were asked to put a couple of coins into a designated container and that loose change would go toward the goat project.

In another case, when adults used vulgar or inappropriate words, they pitched some coins into a special container at home, and this money became a donation for the purchase of goats. What a delight it was to check the special “feed bucket” in church throughout Lent and find bags of loose coins, as well as some very generous goodwill donations in support of this year’s project!

The project captivated the imagination of the parish community enough so, that even the teenagers in the pastor’s Wednesday evening high school religion class asked numerous times, “How many goats have we been able to purchase?”

It is probable that no one ever imagined we might actually purchase a barnyard full of 24 goats! My heart truly “bleats” with joy and thanksgiving for the fruitfulness of this Lenten season!