Knights of Columbus at St. Edward's parish in Clifton Park will sponsor a presentation by parishioner KAREN WOJCIK-HESS, who is president of the Capital District Area New York State Alliance for Retired Americans (NYSARA) Jan. 16, 7 p.m. She will discuss issues that impact seniors in the community....

The Residents Encounter Christ (REC) prison ministry will hold an interest session Jan. 15, 6 p.m., at the Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Americas in Albany, a mission of Blessed Sacrament parish. REC volunteers go into six area prisons for three-day retreats, attend weekly Bible study groups, offer confirmation classes and assist at Masses. Some visit incarcerated persons who are in hospice. Others lead communion services Wednesday evenings at Saratoga County Jail. Contact (518) 417-1625 or info@recrcda.org....

REV. MARTIN FISHER shared this story from an anonymous mother in the bulletins for Notre Dame-Visitation parish in Schuy­lerville and St. Joseph's in Greenwich: "In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their father was gone. There would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in southern Indiana at that time, I knew nothing about it. I loaded my children into the rusty old 1951 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The last place we went to was a truck stop called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place. She needed someone on the graveyard shift. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night. That night, when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. On Christmas Eve, the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel: truckers Les, Frank and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, I hurried to the car.

"My jaw dropped. My old, battered Chevy was filled to the top with boxes. I scrambled inside and, reaching back, pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts. I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding, Jell-O, cookies, pie filling and flour. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

"As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop."

"Like the angels at the Big Wheel Truck stop," Father Fisher wrote, "God looked at the human race and knew we, too, needed help. Two thousand years ago, God sent us the greatest gift of all: a Savior, Christ the King, to bring us peace, hope and healing. May our Christmas season be filled with gratitude in our hearts"....

REV. KOFI NTSIFUL-AMISSAH, pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish/the Black Catholic Apostolate in Menands, wrote in the parish bulletin: "The Christmas season gives us the opportunity to remember our many blessings and be filled with hope and joy for the new year. This has been a difficult year. We have all witnessed the hurricanes, slave trading, gun massacres, fires and floods that have shaken the world this year -- as well as our own personal traumas. In most instances, all we could do was hope and pray.

"Hope is such an important part of our lives. Hope is the knowledge that we are being changed for the better as we trust in God's promises. It is the conviction that, no matter the circumstances, God's plans for our lives are 'for good and not for disaster, to give us a future and a hope' (Jer 29:11). How can we build our foundation of hope? We can strengthen our faith. We can trust God's timing. Sometimes, God answers our prayers and fulfills our hopes quickly. At other times, for His own divine reasons, He allows us to wait.

"And we can pray. Prayer is one of our most powerful ways to stay close to Jesus, and yet it is often neglected during the very holy days we set aside to remember His birth. As you think about one or two small changes you can make in your prayer life this season, consider these Scripture verses: 'The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results' (James 5:16), and, 'Never stop praying' (1 Thes 5:17). May you and your family have a blessed holiday season in the name of the infant Jesus"....

Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Schenectady congratulated new officers of the parish Women's Society: LINA ANTE­NUCCI, MAUREEN KUCHA­RASKI, MARIE PALMER, JENNIE MCCADDEN, MARY ANN DEMEO and spiritual director REV. PETER PAGONES....

The GIFT intergenerational faith formation program at Our Lady of Fatima parish in Delanson is continuing to explore the "road to Emmaus" into the Easter season. Upcoming GIFT topics include "bearing false witness," "keeping the Sabbath, "the Catholic Church and science" and "we are a resurrection people."

HEATHER SHELDON volunteered to manage Our Lady of Fatima's parish website, www.rcda.org/parishes/olfdelanson. JAMES KELLER volunteered to lead the prayer chain ministry....

At All Saints in Albany, students from kindergarten to 11th grade presented a live posada, depicting the birth of Jesus. They also had cupcakes at a "happy birthday, Jesus" celebration.....

The thrift shop at Blessed Sacrament parish in Albany made extra efforts to have Christmas items displayed and available around the holidays, as well as a host of other items for Christmas and winter use....

St. Pius X parish in Loudon­ville announces the premier of its new contemporary music ensemble Jan. 14 at the noon Mass. The multi-instrumental ensemble of youth and young adults will lead noon liturgies in the current music of the Catholic faith. To participate, contact BRIAN HOFFMAN at music@stpiusxloudonville.org....

St. Patrick's parish in Ravena is selling remaining memorabilia from its 100th anniversary celebration. Christmas ornaments are $8; keychains, $6; and cups, $10....

St. Joseph's in Worcester noted that two Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal have agreed to help provide a day of reflection for its catechists and to speak to its faith formation classes. To donate frequent flyer miles to make it possible for the sisters to visit; contact PATRICK HANUS, (607) 638-5550.