On a recent Sunday morning Carmen and Rudy Castillo carried the offertory gifts in procession to the altar. After Mass the couple shared their heartfelt love of their parish. “San Roque Parish is the best parish in Santa Barbara,” said Rudy. Having spent most of their lives in the parish the couple should know.This sentiment is shared by so many in this parish in the foothills of west Santa Barbara. These parishioners know how to reach out and touch those in need — within the parish and into the surrounding community. Take St. Vincent Center, the longest operating non-profit in Santa Barbara, serving all ages and especially the poor, ill and those in need. Daughter of Charity Sister Margaret Keaveney, St. Vincent’s president and CEO, has seen the parishioners of San Roque in action. “The people of the parish are so wonderful,” says Sister Margaret, citing the parish’s Giving Tree and “Ladies of Charity” who contribute to St. Vincent’s. “We are so grateful for all the support that the people of San Roque have given to St. Vincent Center. San Roque Parish really makes the compassionate face of Christ present.” One such parishioner is Pat Lupo, a true champion for the needs of others, for any need that exists in the community. “I love St. Vincent Center,” she says proudly. “We have a fashion show once a year to help the seniors and the children. All the money we raise goes straight to Sr. Margaret Keaveney to help the children.” A San Roque parishioner since 1960 involved in numerous activities, Pat Lupo also helps at nearby Bishop Garcia Diego High School raising money for scholarships. “It’s all about helping people,” she says. “Here in the parish all you have to say is, ‘So-and-so is ill,’ and everyone pitches in to help. That is what it is. It’s a family here.”Pat and her husband Bill are among many at San Roque clearly in love with their faith and their parish. “Church to me is so much love and faith; I feel so good when I go to church,” says Pat. “It is all about the people. I could go out there to the 9:30 Mass people and I could probably find 25 people that I have known forever.”Pat’s giving attitude is mirrored by parishioners in other ministries. DRE Jennie Nelson oversees every area of religious formation in the parish: First Communion and Confirmation preparation, pre-school through eighth grade, Children’s Liturgy of the Word, training of altar servers, working with and preparing the 42 teachers and substitutes, RCIA, parent meetings and more. “I feel I walk with Jesus because I know that I could never do all of this by myself,” says Jennie. “And when I think about what I do, I ask myself, ‘How do I do that?’ but I know it is God working with me and I am not alone. It is the Spirit that goes with you.” It is certainly with Dorothy Hull. She and her husband Warren had been married for 64 years when he passed away last year. Ironically, Dorothy had been baptized in a Greek church in 1920 but never had a baptismal certificate. So this fall, she will be going through RCIA. “I am just so sorry I didn’t do this while my husband was alive,” Dorothy says. He was very devout. But the parish is so wonderful; I feel alive here.”Msgr. Michael Jennett, San Roque pastor since 2005, is not surprised that his people love their parish so much. “The grace and love of Christ become so evident and transforming in the kindness and active participation of our parishioners in their many works of charity and service,” he says. “Truly, they are the evangelizers making Christ’s love real and approachable. I am humbled and grateful for them, and very happy to be with them.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0726/sanroque/{/gallery}