Sharing a meal, kindness at Thanksgiving

Parish grateful for overwhelming interest of volunteers willing to serve their neighbors

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TIVERTON — Stuffing will soon be shuttled by dozens of volunteers, excited and eager to bring a Thanksgiving feast to the front doors of those in need — free of charge. The parishes of St. Christopher and St. Theresa in Tiverton have invited the community to celebrate a holiday meal at St. Theresa Parish Hall on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, and will deliver meals to those unable to leave the house.

Rev. Przemyslaw “Shemek” Lepak, pastor of the two parishes, said that Nancy, a parishioner of St. Christopher, and David, a parishioner of the neighboring Holy Ghost Parish, approached him about the idea of offering this special dinner to the community.

“Whether we get 20 or 200 guests, we are prepared,” said Nancy. “It’s all coming together.”

Nancy added that she is so grateful for the generosity of volunteers willing to participate in all aspects of the meal.

“The volunteers are pouring in. People are calling every day. It’s unbelievable,” she said. “Some want to deliver meals, or ask if we need donations, others say, ‘I’ll make pie’ or ‘I’ll make turkey.’ I’m amazed. People just want to help out any way they can.”

David shared that especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, people are incredibly generous. He added that people are always willing to donate this time of year, but that it is important to remember that the need exists beyond the holiday season.

“We know there is a need all year round — people need to eat 365 days a year, not just at the holidays,” he said. “You don’t realize the amount of people who want to volunteer until you ask. People are willing to help.”

David and Nancy have worked to get the word out about the dinner to local housing authorities and interfaith communities, extending into Fall River, Mass. Nancy added that the Thanksgiving meal is open to individuals and families of all faiths and backgrounds.

“It doesn’t matter if they are Catholic and it doesn’t matter who we are serving as long as we are out there,” she said. “Hopefully this Thanksgiving dinner will grow each year.”

Volunteers will begin cooking and baking on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week in preparation for the special Thanksgiving feast. Dinner will be served in the bright parish hall and delivered meals will not be dropped off at the doorstep, but instead lovingly transported on nice dinnerware, complete with all the fixings, a floral arrangement and hopefully a few minutes of visiting.

Father Shemek said that the parish feels blessed that David, Nancy and the fellow volunteers have opened their hearts to share in this Thanksgiving meal with their neighbors in need.

“Pope Francis said that the love of the poor is at the center of the Gospel and as disciples of Jesus, we must reach out to help others,” he said. “This a beautiful ministry.”

Guests are welcome to arrive at St. Theresa at 11:30 a.m. for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner served at noon. For any questions or to reserve your space, please call 624-6644.

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