Feeding the Hungry

I wrote the article below for Giving Voice’s newsletter and I wanted to share it with all of you!

IIMG_2853 just began a new ministry here in Connecticut as the chef at the Thomas Merton Center (a day shelter) in Bridgeport which is one of the poorest cities in the state. I am so happy to be back in a kitchen doing what I love most after experiencing two years of not working during my novitiate. The Thomas Merton Center is housed in what used to be St. Joseph’s church in a rundown neighborhood characterized by unkempt and abandoned houses cordoned off by chain link fences. The center still looks like a church from the outside even though the stained glass windows are covered with bars, and inside the pews were removed to make way for almost two dozen tables. The altar and the vestibule are now the kitchen and store rooms. Having my new kitchen housed in a room that is still reminiscent of an altar, Gothic arches and all, has been a unique experience. It is a challenge for me in two ways, first because the program has not been kept up for quite some time and its rundown condition troubles me. It saddened me to see a kitchen and food, both of which are spiritual experiences for me, treated in such a thoughtless way. The second challenge comes with my desire to live up to these auspicious surroundings. I have often experienced food and the art of cooking as a spiritual exercise both in its connection to creation and the God of Creation, as well as in the art of cooking and eating mindfully, which is to say in such a way that enjoying the food becomes a meditation.

20151201_120350We are fed in many ways and just so my ministry to feed the hungry goes beyond filling empty bellies; it is filling starving souls. Many guests come to the Center, or any soup kitchen, just for a meal; however, just as often guests come because they are alone and isolated by their poverty, addiction, or illness. I think one of the reasons humans gather, whether it’s for a meal or to be around the table of the Eucharist, is to be reminded that we are not alone. My ministry as chef is to facilitate the gathering and as such I can think of no better place for a day shelter’s kitchen then an altar.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail RSM
    Dec 18, 2015 @ 22:24:12

    Thanks for your reflections on feeding the hungry, Mandy. You have a call everyday to be Eucharist through your ministry. Thomas Merton Center…what a dear name! I’m sure this monk-of-the-world will bless you and those in your circles of Mercy. Your mindfulness words reminded me of Thich Nat Hahn’s (sp?) book, Savor. If you haven’t read it, I think you would like it. Merry Christmas, Mandy!

    Reply

  2. Donna Conroy
    Dec 18, 2015 @ 22:30:50

    I read this in Giving Voice. Well done, Amanda. (No pun intended!) Many blessings, Donna

    “In the shelter of each other, the people live.”

    Donna Conroy, RSM Sisters of Mercy 15 Highland View Rd. Cumberland, RI. 02864 401.333.6333

    Reply

  3. Judith Carey
    Dec 19, 2015 @ 10:05:11

    Mandi, thank you for sharing the reflection on your new ministry. In time, you will have an influence and make the changes you want to see happen. They are blessed to have you at Merton House!! Judy

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply

  4. blackconstance
    Dec 20, 2015 @ 17:16:37

    Thanks Donna!

    Reply

  5. Leslie
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 00:22:05

    Mandy, nice article….thank you. You have already made a difference and will continue to create food that is blessed and nourishing in body mind and spirit!

    Reply

  6. Megan
    Dec 22, 2015 @ 11:11:28

    Truly Eucharist, Mandy.

    Reply

  7. Patricia Colla
    Dec 24, 2015 @ 13:17:33

    It was good to see you yesterday – and in your ministry environment.  You looked like you belonged!  You are at home! Merry Christmas to you, your family, and all those you feed with the bread of the earth. Love, Pat

    From: Nun with a side of pirate To: p.colla@yahoo.com Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 8:28 PM Subject: [New post] Feeding the Hungry #yiv0010940843 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0010940843 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0010940843 a.yiv0010940843primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0010940843 a.yiv0010940843primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0010940843 a.yiv0010940843primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0010940843 a.yiv0010940843primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0010940843 WordPress.com | blackconstance posted: “I wrote the article below for Giving Voice’s newsletter and I wanted to share it with all of you!I just began a new ministry here in Connecticut as the chef at the Thomas Merton Center (a day shelter) in Bridgeport which is one of the poorest cities i” | |

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