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Wednesday, 23 December 2015 23:22

An Act of Mercy 

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Matt Rousso – New Orleans Chapter

Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, my wife Janet, along with a friend and co-volunteer from the St. Vincent de Paul Learning Center, took over our kitchen and began a feverish cooking spree. Several hours later, they filled the trunk of their car with huge pans of bread stuffing, bowls of salad, cranberry relish, etc., and headed for a center in one of the impoverished neighborhoods of New Orleans. There they met up with five other Maryknoll Affiliates and five volunteers from the Catholic Worker House. Along with Janet and Francis’s pans of food, more pans of mashed potatoes, baked turkeys, bread, and desserts were brought in and set up for serving.

Maryknoll Affiliates on the serving line: Kevin Cahalan, (in rear) Chris Cahalan,
Zora—a visitor at the Catholic Worker, Janet Rousso, and Ben Gordon.

Near 6pm, the doors of the Catholic Worker House were opened and homeless men and women began to gather around the food tables. After prayers of thanksgiving were offered, the Maryknoll Affiliate and Catholic Worker volunteers began to put plates of food into outstretched hands. It wasn’t long before the hungry guests returned for seconds. 

Kevin Cahalan prepares to serve vegetables.

As people started leaving an hour or so later, “Thank you,” and “God bless you,” and “Y’all sure are good cooks” could be heard over and over. I could not help but think that the volunteers indeed demonstrated wonderful unconditional love, and I truly believe the forty-plus men and women who were returning to their places under the nearby bridge or in alleyways of the city also felt this as an act of mercy.

After washing the dishes and cleaning the serving room, the volunteers returned home—already planning the menu for next month’s dinner. Maryknoll Affiliates and Catholic Worker volunteers engage in this “home-town mission activity” once a month. It’s what I think Pope Francis calls “going to the peripheries.”




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