Stepping into the cool air-conditioning at the St. Vincent de Paul’s food pantry in Severna Park, I was welcomed by the St. Vincent de Paul local conference president, Cindy Halloran. One older woman was completing her intake registration and a younger woman was pulling her water bill from her purse to share with a worker. A woman and a young girl with a huge smile were perusing the offerings in the pantry area.
“What kind of cereal do you like?” asked pantry manager Kathy Middel, smiling at the child.
“It’s busy in here,” I remarked to Halloran.
“Oh no, it’s not busy now,” she said. “It was busy this morning. This is just how it always is.”
I was surprised. “The need is everywhere,” Halloran said, reading my mind.
The pantry is a ministry outreach of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church. Parishioners provide volunteer hours, food and resources.
I asked Halloran if the pantry just opened. “Oh no,” she said. “We’ve been around since the church began. People just didn’t know we were here.”
The team relocated the pantry in August to the “big blue barn” on Cypress Creek Road and Ritchie Highway, and neighbors are now discovering the resource.
Formerly housed in the basement of an old rectory building at St. John the Evangelist, the pantry served a record number of people, 94, in three hours. Volunteers gave away 102 bags of groceries.
As I walked through the building, I met Shadrik Mokum, a seminarian with St. John the Evangelist. He was mingling, laughing, and joking with volunteers and visitors. Originally from Cameroon, Mokum has been with St. John the Evangelist for three months and provides spiritual support as needed at the pantry, offering prayer and encouragement.
“The St. Vincent de Paul Society is a part of the way the church proclaims the gospel,” Mokum said. “As one of our fathers in the church (referring to Pope Paul V) says, ‘Modern man believes more in witnessing than in preaching.’”
You can preach all day and not reach people, but feeding the poor, and caring for those in need, makes them listen.
“Parishioners have been very supportive,” Mokum said.
He also praised the ministry of St. Vincent de Paul Society and said his church in Cameroon was active with the society. “It’s an international organization,” he said.
Halloran said the St. Vincent de Paul pantry differs from other agencies. “We step out of the box,” she said.
Volunteers work with people to help them with more than their utility bills. Through their network of agencies, they seek to assist with housing and even car repairs. Halloran said they strive to give people a helping hand before their needs get too far out of control.
Halloran, quoting the International Society of St. Vincent de Paul Society rule, said, “No work of charity is foreign to St. Vincent de Paul. It includes any form of help that alleviates suffering or deprivation and promotes human dignity.”
The center is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:00am to 1:00pm with volunteers distributing food, funding and other help to their neighbors in need. Visit the pantry or call 443-261-0109 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Those who would like to donate may drop off nonperishables or hygiene and cleaning products in the blue bins at St. John the Evangelist Church or at the pantry. Financial donations may be made through the church or at the pantry.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here