Sr Fidelis sm, gives us this good news from St Patrick's Church Hill, Sydney:
Geography played a significant role in our planning Saturday mornings for our guests who sleep on the streets locally. St. Patrick's Church's local area would be familiar to many, either from visits or from tourism displays.
We are located almost beneath the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the route to Central Station at the southern end of the city passes by Hyde Park and the main retail centre, and skirts Darling Harbour. It is noticeable that there is very little service in terms of food for the homeless here in Harrington street compared to areas near Central Station and around Hyde Park. This is especially true on the weekends, and was the impetus for providing a Saturday morning breakfast at our church.
Initially, we had about 50 guests, and this soon grew to an average of seventy men mainly but also women, and youth as young as fifteen. So far, the largest group was one hundred. Not only have the numbers grown, but so too has menu, and currently there are three courses.
Starting at about 4 30 a.m. our guests arrive desperate for that first cup of tea or coffee (with up to six spoons of sugar), Milo, hot chocolate or juice to get them going. At that time they have cereal, yoghurt, croissants and scones. They have time to chat to each other and to the volunteers and this is very important to them.
While they wait for the cooked breakfast they wander out to where we offer clothes, shoes, socks, toiletries and many other necessities. A key item for each guest is a swag which is available on request. When they make requests for other items we try to respond to their needs, e.g. we provided a pram for a pregnant woman, and we can help furnish their homes if they are lucky enough to receive a place from the Department of Housing.
At 6 30 a.m. a full breakfast is provided including a core menu of toast, leg ham, bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns, fried rice, lasagne, pasta, mushrooms, roast potatoes and baked beans. We try to give a little variation when possible. This is all freshly cooked in the morning by an outstanding team of volunteers. Volunteers include Marist Fathers, school students, teachers, housewives, doctors, lawyers, nurses, bankers and many others who provide advice on issues and help to the guests with other services
The exciting part happens after the main breakfast – dessert. We have discovered that they really enjoy sweet dishes, ice cream being the number one. This is a staple dessert along with bread pudding, cheese cake, apple pie and any other dish we can provide for variety. Any food left is available for take-away.
Now that is what you call a King's Breakfast.
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.
I was hungry you gave me to eat and thirsty to drink ...outstanding outreach. As Marists it epitomizes who we are and what we do. We all grow
what a menu for breakfast! that is what I call civilised priorities! Wouldn't it be great to hear from other places where Marist missions include reaching out to the homeless, to celebrate a wonderful outreach … I think of Notre Dame de France in London, OLV in san Francisco … but I am sure there are others, too ….
We had two outreaches at Our Lady of Victories in downtown Boston. A soup kitchen in the basement of the Church, that was run by a NGO, a hot breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday, for men over 50, many Veterans. And through our postulant Nik, several of us in the rectory went out with him every Thursday night with 3 sacks: rosaries, sandwiches, and socks, and we would walk the streets and visit with the homeless. IN some places , they would see us coming, and shout , here comes the Church people! WE closed the church 2 years ago, and the program moved on. But the desire and memories continue!
Thanks for this Paul W, and Paul F! I'd be very happy to have a blog piece on NDF in London.... who to contact? Great to know what was being done at OLV in Boston, thanks Paul F: what about San Francisco - something still happening there?
You could have fresh news from the NDF refugee Center in London, care of Ivan Vodopivec sm and S. Catherine Jones smsm. They gave us an account of their activity in feeding the homeless one or two years ago. I could too forward you the article they published on the marist solidarity blog of the European province. A difficult task but a solidarity necessity all over the world
Thank You Jean-Bernard - yes, we could ask Ivan and Catherine to give us an update on their work at NDF; and the article the published on the marist solidarity blog of the European province - most welcome!