CRANSTON — More than 40 parish volunteers gathered at the St. Mary Parish Center on Sunday, September 24, to participate in a parish outreach project to benefit the diocesan Emmanuel House homeless shelter and Mary House Ministry at St. Patrick Church.
Parishioners prepared 400 bag lunches and delivered them to the two ministries, both of which serve low-income individuals from the greater Providence area. The lunches were distributed to visitors to the diocesan homeless shelter and parish-based food pantry and meal kitchen later in the week.
According to Pastor Father William Ledoux, the project offered an opportunity for parishioners to reach out to those in need in a neighboring area of Rhode Island and live the gospel values they hear every week at Mass.
“We forget there’s a lot more beyond this little area that we’re in,” he said. “The Gospel’s a lot more than listening to it. Jesus told us always to go.”
Volunteers collected items and cash donations from parishioners from July to September, then prepared the bags with sandwiches, bottled water, snacks and sanitary items and packaged them for delivery on the morning of the event. Each bag also contained a prayer card with a message from the parish community to the recipient.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to show how people were working together and everyone was contributing from their own expertise,” said Deacon Peter Ceprano, who assisted with the packaging of the lunch bags.
Parish office manager Donna DiTraglia oversaw the project, coordinating volunteers and organizing the collection of donations. She said parishioners already looked forward to their next service opportunity and hoped the lunch bags would mark the first in a series of outreach projects to offer greater support to the surrounding community.
“It’s just a whole bunch of nice people who came together to do something nice for someone else,” she said.
In addition to the bag lunches, the parish donated $200 to each ministry. Volunteers were grateful to the many local businesses that supported the project by donating food and materials and assisting with transportation of the lunches, including R&D Tool, Calisi Bakery, Economy Movers, WasteXpress and BJ’s.