In speaking with staff and volunteers at Saint Therese Little Flower (STLF) Parish this week, I learned that our food pantry shelves are nearly empty, while the number of hungry households in our area increases significantly. Earlier this year, when Saint Louis Parish on Swope Parkway closed after a century of service, STLF absorbed the care for all who went there for food and other social aid; the boundaries run from The Paseo east to Interstate 435 and Brush Creek south to Bannister. Saint Therese was often barely able to keep up in responding to needs within its own Blue Hills neighborhood. Coupled with inflationary costs, this additional large territory is causing our empty shelves and prompting my ensuing request of you.
We have all heard stories of hunger around the world and in our own neighborhoods: homeless people rummaging near dumpsters as businesses toss out food, children waiting outside restaurants where kids can eat for free if adults will take them inside, weekend backpacks for students living in poverty, elderly citizens that slip through the cracks, and families that scrape by from day to day, week to week, and paycheck to paycheck. If you can assist by going through your pantry and filling a sack or two to send our way, I and those who receive the groceries from us will be extremely grateful. You could bring the bag with you to 9:00 Mass any Sunday at 58th Street and Euclid Avenue or, if in the south part of the metro area, drop them at the Farnan Spirituality Center, 301 East Santa Fe Trail, across from Avila University. I will be glad to load them in my car and deliver them to the parish’s food pantry.
One of my fondest memories from the years I spent at Saint Thomas More Parish was seeing parishioners arrive at Mass every First Sunday of the month with their arms filled with groceries to send to Seton Center for distribution to less fortunate citizens. By the last Mass of the weekend, the huge narthex was so full, we would create paths through paper, plastic, and cardboard for worshippers to find their way into the sanctuary. Another great privilege was helping elementary students take backpacks of nutritional snacks that their parents, grandparents, and neighbors filled to children at other schools whose families, often, had no food in their dwelling places. Former Bishop John Sullivan periodically remarked that we need the poor more than the poor need us—meaning that we can save them from hunger but, according to Matthew 25, they can save us from hell.
I’m not sure who needs each other more but am convinced that we do, in fact, need each other. We walk the road of faith in the same cities and towns and accompany one another along life’s journey toward the heavenly city of God. I hope that, by Thanksgiving, STLF will be in much better shape and, by Christmas, that we can look to Bethlehem (Hebrew for “House of Bread”), upon the baby laid in a food trough at birth, with new eyes of compassion understanding His earthly mission to be food for the materially hungry and bread for the spiritually poor. In that loving gaze and through these charitable acts of feeding the hungry, we might better realize our mission, too.
In advance, I thank you for the help you give and the lives you impact.