As Catholics, when we reflect upon the importance of serving others in need, one particular Scripture passage may immediately come to mind — “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Matthew 25:35-36).
The Catholic Church recognizes seven corporal works of mercy that are based on this Scripture passage — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, burying the dead, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned and giving alms to the poor.
One local opportunity to engage in these works of mercy is through the St. Elizabeth Center in Lorain. This center is a part of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Cleveland and has been providing food and shelter to our area for more than 20 years. Our St. Joseph and Nativity parish communities have been happy to support the mission of the St. Elizabeth Center for nearly as long as they have been open. Our primary means of supporting the St. Elizabeth Center in its efforts is by providing meals on the first Friday of each month.
“I continue to do this ministry because I want to give back to our neighbors in need,” says Linda Howell, who has been involved in this ministry for at least 15 years. “I have been there and know what it is like to not have a lot of money to buy groceries at the store to feed my family. I stood in line to receive free food so that I could cook for my children. I have never been homeless, but I feel as a Christian that God has provided for me and my family, and so I should share the blessings and bountifulness that we have received.”
As ministry leader, Linda has worked to organize and schedule the cooks and collectors for the meals that the church provides each month.
“I started as a cook when I was a parishioner at St. Anthony’s,” she says. “I became a collector in addition to cooking when I joined St. Joseph’s. Over the years, we have lost a few collectors, so I have ended up cooking a few of the meals on my own. Some of the cooks that we have, they have been serving for many years. They are so wonderful, giving, and eager to serve those in need.”
When the ministry members cook the meals, they are providing for 50 people at the shelter. Linda is looking to step down as the ministry leader for this group, but needs someone to step up to organize the cooks and collectors so they can still continue providing this important work of mercy to those in need in our local area.
“This ministry is so important to me,” she says. “Even during the pandemic, I worked to raise money so I could buy groceries and cook food for them when the shelter was closed. I will continue to cook and feed the homeless, but I need some help with the organization.”
Jesus calls us to care for those less fortunate than us and this is one opportunity to serve those in our area who are in need. By providing this one meal a month, our parish feeds the hungry and gives drink to the thirsty in a very tangible way.
Anyone interested in cooking, collecting the food that has been cooked, or helping with the organization may contact Linda Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-320-4227.