Refreshing. That’s our response to the story in this week’s St. Louis Review of the many parishioners who take part in the casserole program at St. Patrick Center. It’s an example of the good accomplished when people come together for a cause.
Working individually in their kitchens to prepare meals, parishioners and others in the community provide food for people who are homeless and struggling every day. It’s a simple act that goes a long way.
We can accomplish much together, something we need to remember at a time when divisions are so prominent, especially politically in the United States, where we saw violence at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Incidents of racial injustice also have made us aware that we are not always coming together as we should.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the Church symbolizes the unity of the whole human race (CCC 775) and the Church is the sign and instrument of God’s communion with all humanity, gathering together people of every land and tongue (CCC 776, 780).
The casserole program at St. Patrick Center is a massive undertaking, and it has thrived for 37 years. Yet there are so many more efforts involving people coming together and making a difference. In August, for example, two members of the Holy Name Society at St. Stephen Protomartyr Parish in St. Louis volunteered to lead a fence-building day along with volunteers from First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood at a home in the Dutchtown neighborhood being renovated by St. Joseph Housing Initiative for a family who are first-time homebuyers. The four-bedroom house and two other houses in the same neighborhood were the fourth, fifth and sixth to be renovated since the formation of the faith-based, nonprofit entity.
Rich Nigro said he volunteered at a benefit for St. Joseph Housing Initiative and was attracted by its mission to produce quality housing for low- and moderate-income families in the St. Louis area. He recruited Gary Nipper, his neighbor, who just built a fence in his yard.
We have many opportunities to take part in efforts that bring people together. Several times each year, for example, we are asked to take part in special collections at Masses. It’s easy to dismiss them. But they represent people of the Church coming together and making a difference for a cause — supporting projects in mission areas, helping maintain the Church’s presence in the Holy Land, supporting retired archdiocesan priests, aiding the only freestanding children’s Catholic hospital in the country and much more.
Let’s turn our attention away from divisiveness and toward unity. Even with COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, we still can take part in a simple way toward a lot of good.