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Jan Quinn served a meal to Brenda Vanderford during the Our Lady of the Holy Cross Community Resource Center’s lunch program April 23. The lunch program provides meals for anyone Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Our Lady of the Holy Cross church hall in St. Louis’ Baden neighborhood. Quinn directs the program. Vanderford attends St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Church.
Jan Quinn served a meal to Brenda Vanderford during the Our Lady of the Holy Cross Community Resource Center’s lunch program April 23. The lunch program provides meals for anyone Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Our Lady of the Holy Cross church hall in St. Louis’ Baden neighborhood. Quinn directs the program. Vanderford attends St. Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist Church.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

‘The Joy of the Gospel’ and a hot meal

Catholic Campaign for Human Development parish grant funds relaunch of Our Lady of the Holy Cross Community Resource Center

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Jan Quinn can be found cooking up a storm in the Our Lady of the Holy Cross parish center kitchen.

On April 23, she seasoned a steaming pan of spaghetti sauce as Karen Sproat spread chocolate frosting over a yellow cake. The two were preparing to feed anyone who came through the doors looking for a hot meal.

“I say my ‘loaves and fishes’ prayer every time,” Quinn said with a chuckle.

Father Scott Scheiderer talked with Michael Rhodes of St. Augustine Church during the Our Lady of the Holy Cross Community Resource Center’s lunch program.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
Quinn is the volunteer director of Our Lady of the Holy Cross’ Community Resource Center, a ministry of the parish that offers free lunch to anyone and everyone on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After minimizing operations during the COVID-19 pandemic and pausing them completely during All Things New announcements, the Community Resource Center relaunched the community lunches in early April.

Our Lady of the Holy Cross was among 14 parishes that received grants from the local Catholic Campaign for Human Development funds for projects related to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”). To mark the 10th anniversary of the exhortation, the archdiocesan CCHD advisory committee set aside local CCHD funds for parishes working to reach those on the margins.

Parishes had the opportunity to apply for a grant for projects that highlight the messages and themes of the exhortation, which include the importance of spreading the Gospel with joy and enthusiasm, a renewed focus on pastoral care and a call to be more welcoming to all, addressing issues of social injustice and economic inequality with a preferential option for the poor, the importance of the laity in the evangelizing mission of the Church and a focus on interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

The parish grants, awarded in late March, are one-time grants of up to $2,000 that must be used during the 2024 calendar year.

The grant money enables the Our Lady of the Holy Cross Community Resource Center to purchase food, pay for building utilities and set aside some small stipends for guest speakers.

The Community Resource Center is a “beacon here in this neighborhood,” Quinn said. “You think of time that you’re with your family — most of it is at a table, it’s over a meal. That’s when you do your best communicating and your best ministry; your best connection with people is over a meal. It’s bringing people to the table.”

Some of the regulars are people without permanent housing; others are seniors in the community who are looking to stretch their food budget or simply enjoy some good company, Quinn said.

“It’s two days a week where they know they’ll get a hot meal, sit down with their friends and make new friends,” she said. “And if they need help, they can find out where to get help.”

The Baden neighborhood is home to many aging, often single seniors, Quinn said. “I’m one of them. And I know how hard it is to make ends meet.”

Judy Lydon, who attends Our Lady of the Holy Cross Church, came down for lunch after the noon Mass. Lydon regularly attended the community lunches prior to COVID and was excited to hear that they were returning, she said.

Father Scott Scheiderer talked with Sharon Shanks of St. Matthew the Apostle Church. Next to Shanks was Ruby Douthet of St. Matthew the Apostle Church.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
“I was really happy, because we need to be able to get together a little bit more,” she said. The best part is “the people, because they’re very friendly. We get along, and we talk about anything and everything.”

Michael Rhodes, who attends St. Augustine Church, heard about the lunches while attending Mass at Our Lady of the Holy Cross. Although he’s new to the Community Resource Center, he immediately saw its importance, he said.

“It’s part of outreach and evangelization,” he said. “We are called to be evangelists. And what better way than to invite someone to a warm meal, a good meal, to share with them the community, to be welcoming?”

Other parishes receiving “The Joy of the Gospel” grants were:

Christ the King in University City, for environmental justice speakers and studies

Holy Name of Jesus in Bellefontaine Neighbors, for education on “The Joy of the Gospel” and outreach with community organizations

Incarnate Word in Chesterfield, for Christpower summer service camp for teenagers

Mary Mother of the Church in Mattese, for an event on domestic abuse, human trafficking, suicide and gun violence

Sacred Heart in Florissant, for racial justice education

South City Catholic Academy (St. Joan of Arc, Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Mary Magdalen) in St. Louis, for a student garden initiative

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in St. Charles, for the IMPACT Seedbearers summer service retreat

St. Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist in St. Louis, for social justice outreach meetings

St. Francis Xavier (College) Church in St. Louis, for its middle school social justice camp

Ste. Genevieve in St. Genevieve, for the Vincent Marian Youth Southeast Missouri Operation Overhaul service retreat

St. Norbert in Florissant, for small groups focused on “Joy of the Gospel” and community outreach

Sts. Peter and Paul in Soulard, to refurbish and maintain the outdoor mechanical lift to make the Meals Program space accessible to those with disabilities

Catholic Student Center at Washington University in St. Louis, to help establish a food pantry to address food insecurity among students on campus


>> The Catholic Campaign for Human Development

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops, working to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ “…to bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free” (Luke 4:18).

The belief that those who are directly affected by unjust systems and structures have the best insight into knowing how to change them is central to CCHD. CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities. CCHD offers a hand up, not a hand out.

To learn more about the national CCHD, visit stlreview.com/47wZPCQ

To learn more about the local CCHD, visit cchdstl.org.


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