Saturday, April 5, 2008

It's a Good Thing She Didn't Like His Sermon

There are times when one should listen to his spouse.

Take Deacon Gilbert Nadeau. He showed his wife, Mary, the sermon he prepared for the Second Sunday in Lent (with the Gospel passage about the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain).

“She said it was too theological. She didn’t like it.”

He admits he was a little miffed. But he decided to sleep on it. The next morning he tossed it in the wastebasket.

That’s when he, or as he would put it, the Holy Spirit, decided it was time to start a soup kitchen.

Deacon Gil and Father Richard Dellos had been talking about the need for offering hospitality for two years. Every time someone would knock at the rectory door, seeking food or assistance, the subject would come up. Sometimes that would be almost every day. In addition, hundreds of people were visiting the parish campus every month for food, clothing and day care at Thea Bowman House.

Like Peter, James and John, who accompanied Jesus, it was time to come down off the mountain and take action for people in need, Deacon Gil told the congregation at the Saturday evening vigil Mass.

“I blind-sided Father Dellos,” he admitted. “But I knew he was for it.” And he was: Father Dellos gave his complete support.

From the pulpit, Deacon Gil appealed for volunteers and donations. By Sunday evening he had assembled a volunteer coordinating group, who would meet the following Thursday to start planning. Eighteen days after that, the soup kitchen was up and running.

The parish maintains a special bank account, called St. Stephen’s Basket, to provide food for the poor. “We spent a lot of money,” he said, to get the parish center kitchen up to snuff – cleaning, painting, installing sinks and three extra freezers, and bringing it up to code.

“What’s amazing is after we opened, we had more money in the bank account than when we started.”

He sees it as “an affirmation that we’re doing the right thing.”

People are being very generous: “They come up to us handing us checks” or donating supplies.

“The Holy Spirit is at work.”

Not to mention, it’s a good thing he listened to his wife.