Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Nourishment for the Homeless

Fr. Richard Dellos put fingers to mouth and blew a loud, piercing whistle.

He did it again and again, each time to show his appreciation for the singers and dancers at the 40th anniversary of his ordination Sunday.

It wasn’t a small party. He had invited the entire parish to a barbecue, and well over 400 people showed up, spilling over the campus, jamming the huge tent housing dining tables and performers, and filling the parish center, also decked out with tables for eating. Some brought gifts and momentoes, including State Sen. Joe Griffo, who presented a proclamation from the New York State Senate recognizing the priest’s service and ministry to the community. A big part of that ministry is serving the poor and those in need.

It started to rain, but the showers didn’t dampen the fest, as long lines of parishioners filled their plates with sausage, pork, beef, chicken and fixings.

A number of our regular soup kitchen guests were enjoying the festivities, too. Among them was Wayne, who had heaped several layers of meat and bread on his plate. He let out his easy, ebullient laugh, even though he would be bracing himself for another cold, damp night on the streets.

Wayne, who is legally blind and was burned out of his home weeks earlier, mentioned that his plans for a new apartment fell through, and that he was now spending his nights under a viaduct.

At the party he was nursing a sore thumb, and when he came into the soup kitchen Wednesday, it was sporting a splint. It had turned out to be broken, and had to be reset at St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

“I was sleeping in a tree, and I fell,” he explained.

“A tree is okay (for sleeping) if you don’t move,” he laughed. “Now I’m sticking to the viaduct.”