Community Assistance Ministry Answers Jesus’ Call to Serve
Many of us are familiar with the Scripture passage of Matthew 25. It’s where Jesus instructs His followers to care for the needy, telling us that whatever we do “for these least of these,” we do unto Him. It’s a powerful challenge — one that all of us, as Christians, are called to take to heart. For those who are involved in our Community Assistance Ministry, the opportunities to live out this call are abundant.
“Our parishioners have been extremely generous in supporting this ministry, they’re amazing,” says Mary Beth McGee, who has served as the ministry leader for the past six years. “We’re serving others as Jesus asks us to do.”
The St. Francis Food Pantry, which is operated from the parish center basement, is probably the most wellknown aspect of the Community Assistance Ministry. The Food Pantry serves 20 parish families regularly, as well as over 900 other households in the community who use it throughout the year. The Food Pantry also prepares holiday meal boxes for the parishioners it serves. Some of those who are served come every month, while others take advantage of the services provided on a short-term basis, following an immediate crisis.
Our 100-150 volunteers serve in a variety of different ways, from making donations to preparing and delivering the food to those who are homebound, to answering the phone. Amazingly, with a bit of effort and creativity, all of the food services offered by our Food Pantry have been able to continue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the Food Pantry is by far the most extensive effort of this ministry, there are also several ways that Community Assistance serves those in the community. When possible, ministry members visit parishioners in nursing homes, as well as write sympathy cards and offer Mass intentions. Some send birthday cards to parishioners who are 80-plus years old and, at Christmas, deliver poinsettias to parishioners who are 90-plus years old. Volunteers also help serve meals at New Horizons Soup Kitchen and prepare “homeless packets” which can be given away to those in need.
Through the years, Mary Beth has found that her faith and trust in God’s provision has grown, as she’s been involved with the Community Assistance Ministry.
“Whenever we’ve had a need, it always works itself out and it’s pretty amazing. My faith has grown in doing this ministry. When we have the needs, I’ll think, ‘God, I don’t know how we’re going to do this,’ and He just provides. We get to see so many little miracles.” — Mary Beth McGee
Whether you’re called to donate food for our Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes, sort and distribute bags of food, or answer the phone, there are several different ways people can serve based on their interests and abilities.
“Whenever we’ve had a need, it always works itself out and it’s pretty amazing,” Mary Beth says. “My faith has grown in doing this ministry. When we have the needs, I’ll think, ‘God, I don’t know how we’re going to do this,’ and He just provides. We get to see so many little miracles.
“The Corporal Works of Mercy bring us closer to God,” she adds.
Mary Beth encourages fellow parishioners to consider becoming involved in this important ministry of our parish. Whether you’re called to donate food for our Thanksgiving and Christmas food boxes, sort and distribute bags of food, or answer the phone, there are a number of different ways people can serve based on their interests and abilities.
“Come by and see what different groups do,” Mary Beth says. “If you’re not finding what you like to do, don’t get stuck in that one thing. Our volunteers are fun — you will be welcome and you’ll enjoy volunteering. We’ll find something that fits you.”
For more info, or to become involved in the Community Assistance Ministry, please contact ministry leader Mary Beth McGee at 217-430-1533 or [email protected] You can also learn more about this ministry by visiting www.stfrancissolanus.com/ministries/community-assistance-food-pantry/