Mercy Moments: Maryknoll Affiliates in New Orleans serve up God's mercy in form of turkeys, bread and potatoes

Last Tuesday Janet, my wife, along with a friend and co-volunteer from 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 5 other Maryknoll Affiliates and 5 volunteers from the Catholic Worker House. Along with Janet and Francis’ pans of food, more pans of mashed potatoes, baked turkeys, bread, and deserts were brought in and set up for serving.

Near 6 pm 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.

As people started leaving an hour or so later, “thank yous” and “God bless yous” and “yall sure are good cooks” could be heard over and over. I could not help but think that this was indeed a wonderful act of unconditional love being demonstrated by the volunteers; and I truly believe the 40+ men and women who were leaving to return 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.”
Matt Rousso is a Maryknoll Animator and Educator located in New Orleans