As you know, Sr. Bernadette and the Holy Cross Sisters were helping with the Christmas Dinner for 1011 people! Thanks to a donation from the Education For Life fund, a hearty meal was enjoyed by all.
"It was a wonderful experience. I feel identified with the poor and outcast" - Sr. Bernadette
You can read Sr. Bernadette's letter below the photos
The location where the food was delivered to.
In the parish preparing the food
Each of 1,000 people received this .... it was lovely!
Sr. Bernadette and the Parish Priests, Fr. Zane Godwin
"More joy in giving than recieving!! St. Paul
Prpearing to bring the food to the locaton
Vegetables and rice on the boil
Being Church…with the Poor and Homeless
Dear EFL, TLC and Parishioners, I promised to share with you how our Christmas lunch would go in our parish here in Maitland, Cape Town. The lunch was hosted by the St. Vincent De Paul Society. It came into effect about 6 years ago when one woman made lunch for 10 homeless people and brought it to them at church. The parish began to build on her initiative and this Christmas we hosted 1,011 homeless and poor people.
As anticipated when one invites visitors we try to prepare well in advance and make sure everything in is order before they arrive. To host 1,011 meant weeks of preparations. To ask for donations of food, money, cooking pots and fuel, plastic dishes, cutlery, people to serve, etc was a mammoth task.
Being part of this project was such a heart rendering experience. I truly felt I was walking in the shoes of the poor and homeless. The people came from near and far knowing they would receive a hot and healthy meal. Those who could not come to the church – the church went out to them. As Saint Dorothy Day would say; ‘…This is being Church”. We took food parcels and dishes of food to so many of the homeless in the Ghetto areas of Maitland. This is the locality where our parish church is situation. A poor, much run down area, home to much crime, poverty and gangerism.
We spent the biggest part of Christmas Day dishing out food in preparation for our guests - the hungry and homeless. It was a sad occasion to see so many hungry and homeless and yet a deep experience of solidarity with people who live on the margins of society. Many find refuse under bridges, ally ways, shop entrances, or any other place that might offer some shelter, especially from the strong winds so characteristic of Maitland.
Being Christmas Day made it all the more meaningful. It gave a deep sense of identification with the Holy Family and their search for a place to give birth to Jesus. They were homeless when he was born. Finding a place to lay down their tired bodies is how many of our local people find themselves, every night. What a miracle to identify with Christ and to know that He lives in their midst. I felt so privileged to share Christmas Day with them in their material nothingness yet in their humanity.
I have attached some photos for you. I couldn’t easily take pictures of the people for fear of disrespecting their integrity. Those I took I asked permission to take. But you will get an idea of what I am saying.
On behalf of my parish here in Maitland and the Saint Vincent De Paul Society we say a big thank you to all of you back home who sent me money. A large donation was given to this great cause.
Sr. Bernadette Duffy
Holy Cross Sisters, Maitland.