A Parade of Casseroles By Joyana Dvorak
Peace & Justice, Paz y Justicia Commission Co-Chair
Working at DePaul University I’ve learned a lot about St. Vincent DePaul the charity saint. While many people were doing good works during his time, he was the first to organize charity in a systemic way. One of the first places he experimented with this was at a parish in Chatillon, France. He recognized that parishioners would respond when there was a neighbor in need, but that the person would be overwhelmed with too much attention and good will was not put to good use. Back then they didn’t have freezers to hold extra casseroles! So, with the parishioners Vincent began to organize small groups of people who would go out and do home visits to assess the need and then decide together how to respond to it. In these visits both the physical and spiritual needs would be attended to.
This practice continues right here at St. John Berchmans thanks to the ministry of HOPE (Helping Other People Enthusiastically). For the past few weeks my family has been the gracious recipient of the generosity of SJB friends who have brought us meals as we welcome home our son Theodore.
Typically I’m on the giving, not receiving end. At first my husband was hesitant to receive such generosity since we “don’t really need it.” When I asked if he was going to suddenly take up cooking as his new hobby and leave his newborn to go to the grocery store, he quickly changed his mind. Yes, perhaps we could use some extra help. It is a humbling time as we welcome with open arms a parade of casseroles and tasty treats to give us the endurance to push through sleepless nights.
There is something very intimate and sacred about inviting someone into your home, especially during a moment of need. People we see in the pews on Sunday entered both the joy and messiness of our life with a newborn. Some would stay and visit for a while, sharing their wisdom on parenthood. Others saw we had our hands full and just left instructions of how to heat the food.
The simple act of preparing and delivering a meal is profound way to continue to build bridges of solidarity together. We are grateful for the physical and spiritual nourishment we’ve received from the SJB community –the actual meals and the many powerful prayers that have made all the difference in our and Teddy’s life. Hopefully someday you will have the opportunity to join or receive a parade of casseroles too.
If you are interested in joining the parade and helping out with the Ministry of HOPE contact Amanda Sullivan.