Senior Priest Joyfully Lends His Name to Easter Outreach Effort


By Tony DeGol

In his trademark humility, Father Carl Spishak thinks he’s getting a lot of credit for work he did not do.

“They’re just borrowing my name,” he insisted.

He is talking about the “Father Spishak Easter Basket Blessing Project” at Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Altoona, where he resides as a Senior Priest.

When Father came to Saint Rose about two decades ago, he noticed a lot of homebound or nursing home residents who were alone – especially around holidays.

“I thought it would be nice if we could give them some kind of gift – even a flower,” he recalled.

Father Spishak mentioned his idea to Jennifer Crum-Waite, a religious education instructor at the parish, and, in his words, “she ran with it,” and it has grown dramatically over the years.

“I don’t mind my name being used in these circumstances,” he added with a chuckle.

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the project.

“It started out very small, and it has grown to the point where the community has helped us, different businesses have helped us, along with members of our church and parents of religious education students,” Crum-Waite said.

On March 26, religious education children at the parish gathered with empty tote bags and paraded around various filling stations at which adults dropped goodies into the bags such as personal hygiene products, puzzle books, and sweet treats – all blessed by Father Spishak.

The group filled 150 bags, all set for delivery to places such as Garvey Manor Nursing Home.

“The people who do the delivering come back and tell me the tears of these older people who even cry out loud because somebody is paying attention to them,” Father Spishak noted. “This is God’s work at hand. We’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves, and when young people have a chance to do this, even though their parents are driving the car and helping with the deliveries, they get the idea that they are loving a neighbor the way they love themselves.”