St. Columbanus was an Irish missionary monk who left home and crossed the Irish Sea to do the work of Christ. Mid-morning Saturday, on the Feast of All Saints, I left home and crossed Chicago on CTA to join about a dozen individuals from Charis Ministries and Amate House for a Service Day at the food pantry at St. Columbanus Parish. This was part of Amate House’s 25 Ton Food Drive to collect food for the food pantry. While I cannot compare my travels from the Rogers Park neighborhood to the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on CTA with St. Columbanus’ adventurous travels over the Irish Sea in the early Middle Ages (although CTA does have its moments), I have no doubt that the work being done weekly at the food pantry done under St. Columbanus’ patronage is the work of Christ.
The food pantry distributes food to over 350 families every Wednesday. As part of our service, we unloaded food from cars and trucks, and weighed and sorted the contributions. While we were collecting over four and a half tons of food for the poor over the late morning and early afternoon, there was fellowship, fun, and food. (Can you really imagine a Charis event without these elements?)
One could sense the Spirit actively at work at St. Columbanus and in our endeavor. I was immediately struck about how catholic this experience was. It was truly universal and multicultural. There were Northsiders, Southsiders, African-American, Caucasian, Latino, Asian, straight, gay, young and old coming together to “feed the hungry.” In addition to those of us from Charis Ministries, we met high school students from Mt. Carmel High School, volunteers from Amate House and Calvert House, and of course parishioners from St. Columbanus. I was part of something larger than myself to make a real impact on the lives of 350 families – at least, temporarily.
The hospitality of the parishioners, especially LaVerne and Debbie, and the pastor, Father Matt Eyerman, was extraordinary. The parishioners welcomed us with graciousness. In between deliveries, a client of the food pantry stopped by to express her gratitude with a hug to the director of the pantry, LaVerne, for the work of the pantry and then gave what little money she had as a contribution. Talk about a gospel story coming to life in a very real and concrete way.
I left home, in a small way, to help feed the hungry with food. I, in turn, was fed spiritually. And I did not even have to cross the Irish Sea to participate in God’s work…
- Tim S.
Day 15 of Writing It Out
37 minutes ago