Eight St. Francis of Assisi parishioners recently traveled to Philadelphia to work for one week at St. Francis Inn, a soup kitchen run by the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Name Province.

Here are some of the reflections from our parishioners:

“Before I left for the trip, I wasn’t really sure what I expected, but I can say that I have been changed because of this experience.  I was thinking about how what I was doing was going to change someone’s life, but it was my life that changed.  I wondered about what I was doing to be Christ for the people

I met.  One day as we were praying before serving the meal, Father Mike said in prayer:   ‘let them know that they are loved.’  I hope that I was able to do that for someone.  I kept thinking about Human Dignity and how a lot of them men and women are probably used to people looking away and that just looking someone in the eye and smiling was important.  It was humbling to see families and seniors come in to eat every day.  Made me think about where they were going after they left.  Would anyone be watching out for them if it wasn’t for the Inn or the Thea Bowman Women’s Center?”   Cheryl Stevens a 5th grade teacher at TFS.

“Stepping into the soup kitchen at the St. Francis Inn I was struck by nerves… what if I don’t know what to do?  What if I make a mistake?  However, Father Michael put us all at ease instantly.  He told us we couldn’t do it wrong, and he was right.  There’s no right or wrong way to do it.  You simply jump in with both feet and do your best to make the guests more comfortable and feel more loved during the time that they are in your care. 

I know I’ve told my students a thousand times that a smile is something we should give away freely each day because it is a gift you always have with you, and it doesn’t cost a penny.  A smile is something I never hesitate to share, but I was never more struck by what an impact a smile can have than during my week at the Inn.  I cannot tell you how many guests thanked us for our smiles and for being so kind to them.  I began to imagine how unfriendly the world must seem to the homeless.  How people too often would rather look away, than look them in the eye and share a simple greeting of peace. 

My week at the Inn was truly humbling, inspirational, and, I hope, life altering.  I hope never to slip back into the complacency of my simple life, forgetting to search out those in need, who live but a heartbeat away.”  Sue Burdette, a 1st grade teacher at TFS.

The St. Francis Inn Ministry will be sending two more adult delegations to the Inn in Philadelphia this year – the weeks of April 25th and October 10th.

Both trips are Monday through Friday. This is a wonderful opportunity for parishioners to serve the poor and hungry face-to-face in a truly desperate section of Philadelphia.

If you’d like to sign up for either of these delegations or would like more information, please contact John Budway at 305-205-5104 or budwayjj@bellsouth.net.