Monday, September 7, 2009

That the Imperfect Do Good...

The people who volunteer at Mother Marianne's West Side Kitchen would be the first to say they're far from perfect.

Yet they're compelled to feed the hungry... with compassion and cheer.

Fr. Paul English, CSB, a visiting missionary who preached at St. Joseph-St. Patrick Parish a week ago, spoke about this penchant for doing good. He acknowledged the ministries in the parish, including the soup kitchen, and went on to say:

"When we do good things, God is walking with us." That's in spite of the fact that "we are an imperfect vessel." It's as if God were saying, "I chose you to do good in the world."

Father English, who was a missionary in Mexico, says he came away far more blessed by the experience: He discovered that when different people come together, everyone grows.

"People want to do good, but sometimes don't know how...Our mission is to help them find their own dignity first."

Dorothy Day had a similar notion -- to accept everyone coming to her Catholic Worker soup kitchen without reservation... with no preconceptions. To recognize, instead, the dignity of each person, made in the image of God.

And Father English adds a twist:

"That the imperfect do good, that's the power of God."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wayne's World

Andy LazarekAndy Lazarek was wiping down tables, occasionally chatting withSister Roberta soup kitchen guests Wednesday. Helping out on-and-off for a year, he is unabashed in his praise for the all-volunteer staff.

"These are the most wonderful people in the world here."

Behind Andy, Franciscan Sister Roberta Southwick, SA, was playing old tunes on an organ, serenading guests with ballads like "Heart of My Heart" and occasionally stepping up the tempo with such numbers as "La Cucaracha".

Wayne sat near the music, his duffel bag nearby and white cane at his feet. Between songs he exchanged quips and laughs with Sister Roberta.

"I call that 'Wayne's World'," she said, pointing to the duffel bag.

WayneWayne laughed in agreement. "That is my whole world." The rolling duffel bag not only has wheels, but also skis for winter. It contains a gazebo with tent, coats, clothes and assorted amenities. A practical outfit for a blind homeless guy.

"Did you hear Wayne is back on the streets?" whispered kitchen supervisor Joanne Lockwood, SFO.

"Yeah, I'm sleeping under the bridge again," Wayne confirmed.

He lingered, enjoying the music, even after most guests had left. A man came in and called to him, that it was time to go.

Joanne noted that the man had spoken to his landlord about giving Wayne a place to stay, and they were going over to meet him.

Andy and other volunteers (Mike McMyler, John McCabe and Betty Frank, SFO) were picking up the pace to clean up the room.

And Sister Roberta, back at the keyboard playing "Beer Barrel Polka," simply said:

"You need peppy music to clean the tables by."