On the evening of December 18, 2019, our friars participated in the Homeless Memorial Service at Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry (170 Pendexter Avenue, Chicopee, MA 01013), as part of the National Homeless Persons Memorial Day. This ANNUAL event is held on, or near, the longest night of the year (This year on December 21st). It affords a moment for all to remember those who have died in the past year – on the streets, as a result of life on the streets – secondary to homelessness. The event is usually scheduled to take place in the parking lot, but due to weather concerns (ice, temperature) this year’s event was held in the soup kitchen’s dining room. This year four deceased were specifically remembered at the memorial: Founder of the Soup Kitchen – +Lorraine Houle (1927-2018), as well as some of the visitors/patients of the caRe vaN – +Ricky, +Chris and +Sandy. The losses of +Ricky and +Chris were the results of the heroine epidemic, and loss of +Sandy was from respiratory arrest.
caRe vaN is a ministry founded by Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Br. Michael Duffy, OFM Conv., who serves the on the kitchen’s Board of Directors as Vice President, while also serving as Associate Dean, Director of Undergrad Program, for the Elms College School of Nursing, in addition to his assignment for our province as a Friary Guardian & Regent of Studies. Nursing Students from Elms College of Nursing were among the volunteers there to help serve a home-cooked meal (at right, with Br. Duffy).
The Nursing Students also serve the caRe vaN alongside Br. Duffy.
Another Our Lady of the Angels Province friar serves the Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry ministry, in the day to day operations. Fr. Nicholas Spano, OFM Conv. serves as Operations Manager (visible working in the kitchen in the news video link).
Also visible in the news video link is Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv., our province JPIC (Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation) Chairman, presented a reflection on the great reversals, including these thoughts:
“At Christmas the reversal is that God becomes a human, one like us.
At Easter the great reversal is that Jesus rises from the dead with the promise that we will become one like God in the Resurrection.
Therefore Christmas points to Easter.
As we gather tonight for a Christmas meal, we also gather to remember +Lorraine, +Chris, +Sandy, and +Ricky, and all of the homeless who died this past year, who have now experienced the great reversal of Easter resurrection.
In our gathering for to celebrate these great reversals of God’s love for us, we also experience small reversals:
-We’ve come out of the cold into the warmth of a soup kitchen dining room
-With the meal our empty stomachs become full
-With our conversation our loneliness is transformed into friendship
As Christmas approaches, let us all consider a small change, a small reversal that we can make in our own personal lives. Just a little something that points to the love of God found in the great reversals of Christmas and Easter.”
Pictured at above is Fr. Joseph Bayne, OFM Conv. (Pastor/Rector of the Basilica of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr, & Assistant Fire Chaplain for the Chicopee Fire Department). The Basilica’s Sandwich Ministry sponsored to the event, along with Elms College School of Nursing (Elms College President Harry Dumey pictured at center above).