In the Gospels, Jesus teaches us how we should serve others. He teaches us to respond to their physical needs with charity, as though we are helping Jesus Christ Himself. The Church recognizes these acts of service as the Corporal Works of Mercy, the first of which is to “feed the hungry.” Feeding the hungry is exactly what our parish’s St. James Painesville and McKinley Meal Ministries do.
On the first Sunday of the month, for nine months out of the year, a group of stewards from Immaculate Conception travels to St. James in Painesville to serve a meal to the homeless. Volunteers arrive around 10 a.m. on Sunday to plan, prep, cook, and serve the meal.
The McKinley Meal Ministry was started around 2015 to serve the less fortunate residents of Western Lake with a food pantry and other basic needs. In 2020, all meal distributions were shut down — however, in 2024, McKinley will resume its hot meal program in a newly remodeled servery.
Both of these meal ministries provide a wonderful opportunity to offer up time in service to those in the larger community — not just fellow parishioners at Immaculate Conception.
“At the end of Mass, we are called to go announce the Gospel of the Lord,” says ministry member Barb Higgins. “That means we are called to show the face of Christ to those in our community, not just in the confines of our family and parish. Taking care of those in the community is personally showing love and concern that gives comfort and changes hearts. It happens through personal interaction. It is what we are called to do.”
Volunteers can get involved and help in many ways, including menu planning, shopping if needed, meal prep, and cooking the food. Volunteers also serve the meals, do the dishes, clean the floors and tables, and interact with each other and the people being served.
Jeff O’Bryan has been involved for many years and shares that he got involved because he was looking to take a more active role in the community.
“It’s easy to write a check once in a while, but this is more engagement,” Jeff says. “It is very humbling to see what others do not have that I too easily take for granted. It is helping me to be more grateful for the blessings that I have.”
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul funds and oversees both of the meal ministry programs — however, you do not have to be a member to volunteer for either of the meal ministry groups. The St. James and McKinley Meal Ministries are both overseen by St. Vincent de Paul, but they have many different people who participate.
For more information, please leave a message on the St. Vincent de Paul extension at the church, 440-942-4500, ext. 107 or send an email to email@example.com.