Our Cathedral Parish Witnesses to God’s Love

The scriptures tell us of God’s preferential option for the poor and Jesus himself vividly made this the very hallmark of gospel living when he said, “What you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me!” 
Here in Camden, charity is a work of compassion at our Cathedral Hall almost every day, but most especially on Tuesdays.  The Cathedral staff works lovingly to mobilize food donations and volunteers who help by making sandwiches to distribute and packing bags of groceries to alleviate the hungry families who come.  The poor are our hungry neighbors and they come eager for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bag of food. 
On a Tuesday in August, Sr. Antoine visited the Cathedral and Susan Mackey shared their story.  This outreach began in the rectory basement about 2 years ago as a ministry of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales who staff our Cathedral.  Last year the kitchen in the Hall was renovated through the dedicated carpentry of Bob Cavanaugh, and their outreach expanded dramatically.  During the month of July, 1,577 sandwiches were distributed.  On average, 200 to 350 are in daily demand at the hall window.   On my visit I met up with Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS, who leads De Sales Service Works, and  had a group of young volunteers from Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia.  All the De Sales groups who come to Camden share in making sandwiches for this outreach.  Three of the young visitors said, “I just want to help.  I can do little things as St. Francis de Sales said.  I appreciate this experience!” 
Several years ago the Cathedral Kitchen moved from the Cathedral Hall to an offsite location on Federal St.  Although their outreach is similar, they are different entities and the Cathedral Kitchen is separately incorporated and funded. Susan Mackey shared that there are no grants for the Cathedral Hall ministry; they rely on donations of food, money or time.  Throughout the diocese and beyond, senior parish groups have begun to stop by with sandwiches they have prepared.  The Santo Nino Prayer Group, Filipino parishioners from Camden County
parishes, is very active with food, money and time.  New volunteers from the Cathedral parish and around the diocese are helping to meet the needs of the poor. 
The South Jersey Food Bank provides food at 17¢ a lb.  Brown’s ShopRite in Bellmawr provides bags and day old bread; fruit cups and jars were donated by Dole foods, JJ Snacks in Pennsauken makes it possible for the volunteers to put together snack bags for the homeless.   For more information or if you wish to join us and help with food, funds, or volunteer your time, contact Susan Mackey at the Cathedral Rectory,  856-964-1580. 
     S. Antoine T. Lawlor, IHM