My Dear Parishioners,
In one week we will host our annual Manna Food Drive over the weekend of July 1st and 2nd. In preparation for that weekend, we are asking you to take home the brown paper bags placed at each of the exits this weekend and return them filled with non-perishable food items. Bags can be placed at the foot of the cross in the back hallway. This is an important food drive that helps to stock the shelves of our local food pantry, the Coordinating Council of Health and Welfare. It is more commonly known as, the Warminster Food Cupboard, and it is located at 75 Downey Dr. in Warminster. This is the closest site approved and recommended by the Archdiocese for this specific food drive. The Manna Food Drive helps to stock the shelves of the food pantry through the summer months when donations are typically lower. Canned food items are usually in greatest need such as beef stew, tuna fish, fruit, vegetables, pasta sauces, soups, pork and beans, etc. St. Joseph parish has consistently been one of the greatest contributors to this Food Drive. The Director published the following on his website. I thought it would be interesting to hear where the food is going. I also agree with his message.
God Bless You!
Greeting Friends and Supporters,
I thought I would take the opportunity to diverge from our usual year-end report telling you how generous you were last year, listing the tens of thousands of pounds of food and dollars you donated, or the thousands of people our volunteers served fighting food insecurity and the impact it had. As usual, You, and We, did all that and more.
Instead, I want to share a story that happened in July when a young husband and wife, who could not speak English came to the food bank on their bicycles looking for food assistance.
Spanish was the language and our translators were not on duty that day. So, we muddled through the Spanish- English charades along with Google translator enough to determine their family composition (2 adults, 6 children) and their needs.
Problem was, we were offering 10 bags of groceries and they were on bikes. Luckily, it was summertime, and my bike carrier was attached to my SUV (doubles as a delivery vehicle for the pantry). We piled the groceries in the back, hooked-up the bikes, and drove them back home.
When I got back to the food bank, I noticed in the back seat there was the woman’s personal tote bag. I knew calling them would be futile because of the language barrier. I took care of some issues that came up at the pantry while I was away then I drove back to their residence after about 40 minutes.
It was 2:30 in the afternoon, I knocked on the door, they answered excitedly, I returned the bag. When I looked into the room, all the family were sitting at the table, already beginning a meal with the food we just delivered!
With more charades, they mimicked eating food to me and offered me to sit and join them.
The one word I heard the most was Gracias. The most common use of the word gracia (grace) in Spanish is in its plural form, gracias, their usual way of saying “thank you.” In English, this meaning of “grace” is present primarily when used to refer to a prayer of thanks said before a meal.
I was a little hesitant and resisted the offer to sit down, but I then realized it was a long time since this family could be hospitable to themselves let alone to others, yet I believed they needed exactly that, probably even more than the food. They needed the dignity and respect to be able to be in a position again where they could celebrate and also share with others.
As I wrote on the subject line of this email: Food is easy to give, Dignity and Respect is harder.
Thank You for your year-long generosity and support allowing us to offer food easily and the opportunity to learn the Grace to offer Dignity and Respect to our guests.
Mike Cerino, Director