WINDHAM - Bishop Robert Deeley presented the Matthew 25 Award to the Social Justice and Peace Ministry of St. Anthony of Padua Parish during a Mass celebrated Sunday, July 30, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Windham (pictures below). Catholic Charities Maine’s Parish Social Ministry makes the Matthew 25 Award and financial assistance available to every cluster in the Diocese to meet the immediate needs of their community.
The Social Justice and Peace Ministry of St. Anthony of Padua Parish serves the community in many ways throughout the year, including providing bagged lunches and other food to the homeless, serving a community meal once a month, holding a Thanksgiving food drive, and setting up a Christmas Giving Tree.
The $5,000 award will benefit the parish’s ministry to the homeless, which began back in 2020 when a parishioner, Blanca Lytle, began making sandwiches for people she saw on street corners and outside the Oxford Street Shelter in Portland. She and other members of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church community stepped forward to help, and soon, sandwiches were not only being taken into downtown Portland but also being delivered to local motels that were being used as temporary shelters for those in need of housing.
“This whole ministry was something that was initiated by our parishioners. They took responsibility for it;, so basically, I just needed to stand back and let them do their thing, and they have been doing that for the last four years,” said Father Louis Phillips, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish speaking to Dave Guthro, director of communications for the Diocese.. “It’s an amazing group. Our kitchen, our parish hall, and our storage areas get used a lot, so it’s a very busy place, and it’s all for good work.”
In the past, the food outreach was limited as to what they could take because they had little space to store perishable items. Thanks to the Matthew 25 Award, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church now has two new freezers and refrigerators.
“We were wasting food. We were seeing food that we couldn’t give out. If we didn’t have some place to store it, we couldn’t take it to pass it out,” Christine Lynch, coordinator of the Social Justice and Peace Ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help told Guthro.
Deacon Frank Daggett, director of Parish Social Ministry, said one of the things that was impressive about the program at St. Anthony of Padua Parish is that it continued throughout the pandemic.
“Many other ministries stopped, but of course, people still needed to eat. People were still homeless. We still have people arriving from out of state, from out of the country. They saw that need and adapted and continued to serve our Lord and his people,” Deacon Daggett said. “This ministry came from just doing the least little thing for a person in need, and I think that is the message Jesus is trying to tell us. Whenever we see some small need, and we do what we can to meet that need, we are doing his will.”
In addition to the $5,000 given to St. Anthony of Padua Parish, St. Rose of Lima Parish in Jay received a $3,000 grant for its food pantry and blessing box, which together serve an estimated 100 people each week, a number that continues to grow. The money will be used to better organize the parish’s community center, so it can provide a larger amount and greater variety of food.
“Matthew 25 is about getting back to the way our Church always was…neighbors helping neighbors and the Church helping those people who are really in need.” —Steve Letourneau, CEO Catholic Charities M