A ‘spin class for the soul’ spurred a St. Mary’s Catholic Church fundraiser | ParkRecord.com

A ‘spin class for the soul’ spurred a St. Mary’s Catholic Church fundraiser

Father Christopher Gray of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, uses a mug, designed by parishioner John McNulty, who was inspired to do so after he and his wife tuned into Gray’s daily “Morning Coffee with Father Gray” virtual devotionals. The public can donate $25 for a mug, and the money will be used for the church’s food bank and basic needs assistance programs.
Courtesy of St. Mary’s Catholic Church

To order a St. Mary’s Cathollic Church coffee mug and donate to the church’s charity fund, visit stmarysparkcity.com/spinclassforthesoul

A coffee mug has launched a new fundraising program for St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

The porcelain mug, which sports the church’s logo as well as a catchphrase, “It’s like spin class for your soul,” is available for a donation of $25, and the money will deposited into the charity fund that is used for the church’s food bank and basic needs assistance programs, said Father Christopher Gray.

“We’re helping people who don’t have access to the usual means available to stay in their houses, keep their utilities going and find food and diapers,” Gray said. “I’m so happy we’re able to do this.”

The mug was designed by St. Mary’s parishioner John McNulty, who, along with his wife Helen, found inspiration from Gray’s online program, called “Morning Coffee with Father Gray.” Gray started the program on Zoom and Facebook Live when the church closed due to COVID-19 in March.

John had this fun idea to make a coffee cup out of nowhere, and because of it, we are able to provide more assistance to more people…” Father Christopher Gray, St. Mary’s Catholic Church

“Father Gray was describing the morning coffee sessions and he said they were ‘like spin class for the soul,’” said McNulty, who owns a restaurant in California. “Since I’m always looking for taglines for ads and things, when I heard what he said I thought it would make a good tee shirt.”

After McNulty’s wife Helen noticed the traveling coffee mug Gray used and said it was “nondescript,” McNulty decided to design a new mug with the tagline as a gift for Gray.

McNulty initially did one just because he and Helen got to know Gray when they embarked on a pilgrimage to Italy and the Vatican in February, just before coronavirus pandemic shut down the country.

“We got to know Father Gray quite a bit during that trip,” McNulty said. “He’s a sweet and gentle soul, and has come into his own at a new parish.”

Things snowballed once people saw the mug during the morning coffees.

“They wanted one for themselves,” McNulty said. “So I decided to tap into my restaurant resources and ordered 30 mugs with that design.”

McNulty quickly found out that 30 wasn’t enough.

“They were gone before we knew it, so we have a new shipment of 144 coming in a couple of days,” he said.

Donors can order mugs at stmarysparkcity.com/spinclassforthesoul, and Gray is astounded at how popular they have become.

“John had this fun idea to make a coffee cup out of nowhere, and because of it, we are able to provide more assistance to more people,” he said.

Since the last week of March, St. Mary’s has provided more than $155,000 of aid in food, clothing, diapers and rental assistance requests to more than 365 people who live in Summit and Wasatch counties, Gray said.

“These are people who, for some reason or another, have been overlooked or aren’t eligible for the stimulus check or unemployment benefits,” he said. “They are part of our community, and now, because of a coffee cup, we can we help them. It’s a beautiful thing because it means people understand what we’re doing and that we can really work together on this.”

McNulty is happy the mugs have helped increase donations.

“We haven’t been to church because of the close-down, so we haven’t been able to put money in the basket to help support the building, parish and community,” he said. “This kind of took on a life of its own, and we’re so grateful.”

Gray started “Morning Coffee with Father Gray” as a way to connect with his parishioners when he couldn’t hold mass. While the program does include prayer and scripture reading, it also includes a time to hang out and talk, he said.

“We talk about random things that cross people’s minds,” he said. “There’s a group of people who tune in every day. Some tune in occasionally.”

Most of those who log on live in Park City and Heber, but others are from different parts of the world, Gray said.

“We have a lot of seasonal residents from around the country, and even as far as Italy,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see who we have reached, even though we can’t be physically together. And we plan to continue to do virtual coffees even after the COVID thing ends so no one is left out.”

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