SANFORD — The St. Thérèse Meals Closet, a ministry of St. Thérèse Parish in Sanford, is that this yr’s recipient of Catholic Charities Maine’s Matthew 25 Award.
The award, which features a stained-glass plaque and a $5,000 donation, was introduced to Barbara Russell, the closet’s director, and to Father Wilfred Labbe, pastor of the parish, by Bishop Robert Deeley and Deacon Frank Daggett, program supervisor of Catholic Charities Maine Parish Social Ministry, throughout a Mass celebrated at Holy Household Church in Sanford on Saturday, July 23.
“As we give this award, we give thanks for the grace of God which guides these efforts,” the bishop mentioned. “Graced by the love we obtain from the Father, we all know ourselves known as to like one another. The work of the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Meals Closet is an exemplary method wherein that’s being achieved on this parish. On this work, and the numerous comparable actions all through the diocese, we see the Gospel alive.”
Matthew 25 Awards are given to parishes to assist social ministry packages. The meals closet utilized for the award so it might proceed to offer meat to its purchasers. Russell mentioned whereas the closet used to have the ability to acquire frozen meat for gratis from the federal authorities, that’s not the case, leading to a “important burden” on the closet’s assets.
“For years, the federal authorities has supplied frozen meat each month for distribution to our purchasers. 4 months in the past, the shipments stopped, and so they have given no indication when they’ll resume. Consequently, we’re pressured to buy the meat with our personal funds. This grant will assist us via these powerful instances,” Russell mentioned.
As well as, a part of the $5,000 award can be used this fall to buy hats and gloves for among the closet’s purchasers and to purchase just a few heavy coats in case a consumer exhibits up with out one, which Russell mentioned has occurred previously.
The meals closet, which operates out of the St. Ignatius Gymnasium in Sanford, is open to anybody going through meals insecurity, whether or not or not they reside within the city. Final yr, it served 2,218 people.
“There is no such thing as a higher corporal work of mercy than ensuring that those that are in peril of going with out have what they want. Jesus gave us his physique and blood on the Final Supper for meals, then mentioned to go and do likewise for others. That is simply following that instance: ‘As I’ve achieved for you, now go and do for each other.’ It’s an exquisite factor,” mentioned Father Labbe.
“The dwelling of the Gospel isn’t one thing institutional. It’s private. It’s the work of every of us within the parish,” the bishop mentioned. “It’s neighbor serving to neighbor. We’re all known as to take part within the mission of the Church to convey God’s like to our world.”
The meals closet relies on volunteers to function, and final yr, they put in roughly 1935 hours of service. Some have been serving to out for the reason that closet first started working in 2016.
“We find it irresistible. It simply makes you’re feeling good. You’re giving to others. You’re serving to others, and on the identical time, we’re having fun with it,” mentioned Carlene Roy of Shapleigh.
“It’s enjoyable, and we’re doing an excellent factor,” mentioned her husband, Mike. “You simply really feel such as you’re doing one thing. It helps out individuals.”
The volunteer dedication continued even via the harshest months of the pandemic. The closet closed for only a week or two, then modified the best way it operated by transferring meals distribution outdoor.
“They tailored, and the volunteers, and the parishioners, and the donors simply got here via and stored it going. Their utilization was up as a result of individuals both misplaced their jobs, or they acquired sick, or they needed to maintain somebody who was sick. Many dad and mom, if that they had youngsters who acquired sick, they needed to keep residence. They couldn’t go to work. And the meals closet actually got here via in that point of disaster,” mentioned Deacon Daggett.
The volunteers mentioned the variety of individuals being served has considerably elevated for the reason that pantry first opened and has continued to climb.
“These days, we’ve met fairly just a few new households coming in for meals, so we all know that it’s properly wanted,” mentioned Rejeanne Dubois, a volunteer from Alfred.
“There are lots of people, and there are going to be extra individuals coming down due to the costs,” mentioned Anne-Marie Sanger, a volunteer from Alfred. “The costs are so excessive.”
Following the award presentation at Holy Household Church, a reception was held on the meals closet, giving the bishop a chance to be taught extra about the way it operates and to talk with volunteers and with a few purchasers who reside within the close by St. Ignatius Flats.
“I feel it’s great,” mentioned Gilberte Michaud. “Typically, they’ve simply the best factor that we must exit and purchase.”
“We come each week and get no matter we wish, and if we don’t want it, we don’t take it. That’s what all of us do,” mentioned Therese Tardiff.
The meals closet, which is open each Thursday from midday to 2 p.m., offers purchasers the chance to specify which objects they need and wish to make sure that meals doesn’t go to waste. The meals being distributed comes from a month-to-month authorities allocation, which is supplemented because of donations from the parish neighborhood. If you want to make a financial donation to assist the closet’s mission or are in a position to volunteer, contact Barbara Russell at 603-970-0306 or go to www.stthereseparishmaine.org/foodcloset.