It started with the stained glass window.

Cold air was pushing it in.

Hot air was pushing it out.

The elements had weakened the metal frame of the signature circular stained glass above the entrance to St. Philip Neri Church. But how were parishioners of the Southeast Portland parish going to come up with $14,000 to repair it?

The women of the altar society came up with a plan. They held a bazaar, where they sold baked goods, crafts, and lunch. Then, explained church member Mary Schleich, they hosted two concerts by local pianist Michael Allen Harrison.

That’s how many tasks have been completed at St. Philip Neri for decades: If the parish needs something, volunteers step in to raise funds for it.

“We had to do things to make money to keep the lights on,” said church member Florence Katrena.

What they cannot raise funds for, the parishioners usually tackle themselves. Volunteers do everything from cleaning the pews every week to replacing the candles with fresh ones. Parishioner Paul Raab put bathrooms into the rectory.

Many of the church’s busiest volunteers are senior citizens who started helping at the church decades ago, when their now-adult children were still in grade school. As individuals or as members of the altar society or the Holy Name Society for men, they put on spaghetti dinners, rigatoni luncheons, concerts and a golf tournament. The more they volunteered, the more they connected with one another.

“We didn’t go outside the parish for entertainment,” said Katrena.

Though some of these volunteers are now in their 80s and 90s, they still serve and lead, making them “a great testimony for our young people,” said Father Andrew Thomas, pastor.

The seniors say they love the camaraderie that comes from working and worshiping together.

But they realize they cannot help as much as they used to, and some worry that many younger church members don’t have as much time to help because they work both inside and outside the home. They know the church needs more hands to keep the lights on, to keep the candles fresh.

A family recently volunteered to tend the parish grounds. Katrena has faith that more volunteers will step up to tackle other tasks. All you have to do, she said, is “just ask.”