New DVD tells story of Christ Child Society, foundress

Twenty-one people from the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois gathered recently at the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria to preview a new video on the society’s foundress.

The cause for sainthood of Servant of God Mary Virginia Merrick opened in 2003 and is being promoted by the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
To help with the sainthood cause, officials from the National Christ Child Society have been visiting state chapters so their members and supporters can get an advance look at a new DVD about Merrick.

The DVD informs people of Merrick’s life and work as well as of the mission of the organization she founded in the nation’s capital in 1887.
Titled “A Living Legacy: Mary Virginia Merrick — Life and Mission,” the DVD was produced by Mission Helpers, a women’s religious community based in Baltimore, Md.
he Christ Child Society also has an active chapter in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa.

The video was presented in Peoria by Mary Graves of Cleveland, Ohio, NCCS president, and Maureen Wesley of Detroit, Mich., NCCS treasurer.

“It tells the story of the Christ Child Society simply and beautifully, and it renews the mission of the society,” said Graves. “We hope that it enthuses everybody to become even more dedicated to the Christ Child Society.”

The Christ Child Society’s mission is to serve at-risk children regardless of race or creed. Best known for the layettes, or bundles of baby items, that its local chapters prepare for newborn infants of impoverished mothers, the society also provides services such as group parenting classes, literacy tutoring, care facilities for abandoned or neglected children, and clothing distribution centers.

The preview of the new DVD also was the occasion for the first presentation of the 2009 Wanda Kirby Award, named for its first recipient, who played a significant role in the founding of the Central Illinois chapter.

“It was basically Peg Shipley and I, and Wanda and Marcella McCann, who started this chapter,” said Joan Weber, president of the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois.

“Our goal was to deliver layettes to hospitals by Mother’s Day of 2006. Our layettes would have been very skimpy if Wanda had not given us that first $1,000 to buy supplies,” Weber said.

The Wanda Kirby Award will be given annually by the Central Illinois chapter to recognize notable efforts to support the society.

For more information about the Christ Child Society or the cause, or to send donations for the society or the sainthood cause, visit, or write to National Christ Child Society, Inc., 4340 E. West Highway, Suite 202, Bethesda, MD 20814.

The Central Illinois chapter may be contacted by calling (309) 677-7697, writing to Christ Child Society of Central Illinois, P.O. Box 1563, Peoria, IL 61655, or sending e-mail to The address for the chapter in the Quad Cities is CCS of Quad Cities, P.O. Box 6184, Rock Island, IL, 61201. Shelly Huiskamp is chapter president.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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