Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Pantry Full of Food and Gratitude

Brothers Sam and Scott collect frozen turkeys for Thanksgiving
with volunteer firefighters at the St. Anthony Foundation.
September is Hunger Action Month™, when Feeding America and member food banks ask everyone in America to take action to fight hunger in their community, all month long. The Franciscan friars of the Province of Saint Barbara's sponsored ministries are proud to take part in this national outreach.  Everyday we are reaching out to those who are struggling with the basics of life.  Read about Br. Scott's work with our sponsored ministry the St. Anthony Foundation...
She was holding her stomach as she approached. I could tell she was a few months pregnant. “I’m really hungry; I’m pregnant, and I’ve run out of food,” she shared with a hint of desperation in her voice. In San Francisco, one in five adults lacks the resources to provide food for themselves or their families. In the Tenderloin that number is as high as one in two.
I continued to listen to her struggles to find adequate and nutritional food. I made sure she was connecting with other resources, CalFresh (food stamps) and Women with Infants and Children (WIC). She was, but like other recipients of these benefits she needed to supplement them with other food program to meet her nutritional needs.
After paying rent she was forced to choose between food and health care. This is a situation that gets played out every day in the Tenderloin. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve heard this story. I’m stationed on Fridays at St. Anthony’s Social Work Center, where I help our guest access our emergency and supplemental food pantry for individuals requiring special nutritional support, seniors, and families.
Her sense of desperation began to fade as I told her she qualified for our supplemental food pantry. Within 20 minutes she was enrolled in our program and walking out the door with two full bags of groceries, and a heart full of gratitude for St. Anthony’s social workers, benefactors and volunteers. As I said good-bye to her my next appointment was coming in. He had a different story, but shared the same need for nutritional food to support his battle with cancer.
 As Catholic Christians we are called to engage in the Corporal Works of Mercy.  Can you name all seven of them?  Trying naming them and then check your answers using the list below.  (The answers are spelled backwards)
  • yrgnuh eht deef oT
  • ytsriht eht ot knird evig oT
  • dekan eht ehtolc oT
  • sselemoH eht retlehS oT
  • kcis eht tisiv oT
  • denosirpmi eht tisiv oT
  • daed eht yrub oT
How many did you get right?  How many of them do you practice?  I am going to challenge you this month to choose one Corporal Work of Mercy and practice it.  It is through "action" that we manifest the Good News for others.  St. Francis of Assisi understood this as he told his brothers, "It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.

If you are discerning a vocation to religious life its also imperative that you begin to practice the Corporal Works of Mercy.  Your vocation will be worked out among the poor and marginalized, as it was for St. Francis of Assisi.  It was his starting point:
The Lord granted me, Brother Francis, to begin to do penance in this way: While I was in sin, it seemed very bitter to me to see lepers.  And the Lord Himself led me among them and I had mercy upon them.  And when I left them that which seemed bitter to me was  changed into sweetness of soul and body; and afterward I lingered a little and left the world.
Lastly, reread our vocation blog post called, "Consider your Gifts" for more information on how to discern religious life while working with the poor and marginalized.   

Peace and all good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

Practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy
 St. Anthony Foundation - San Francisco, CA

Personal Reflection:

What Corporal Works of Mercy do you find easy to do?  What Corporal Works of Mercy do you find difficult to do?  Feel free to share you answers in the comment section.

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422