In the tradition of Catherine McAuley and strengthening a commitment to aiding our neighbors, Saint Joseph’s College has created The Monks’ Francis Fund. It is a direct reflection of Pope Francis’ call for greater compassion and justice for the world’s poor, in which he said:
“We have paid too little heed to those who are hungry…. The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
Pope Francis has challenged each of us to take responsibility, to care for the homeless and the unfed, if only in our own corner of the world.
This call to action is something Saint Joseph’s College already holds dear. In 2008, the College helped to create Catherine’s Cupboard, a food pantry serving Standish and surrounding communities. Operating out of a space in Standish’s Town Hall, the Cupboard serves nearly 1,500 men, women, and children each year.
Each Wednesday, Catherine’s Cupboard opens its doors to individuals and families from over 25 towns in the greater Standish area who are food-challenged. Stuart Leckie, the food services manager at Saint Joseph’s College, played an integral role in founding Catherine’s Cupboard. “People would be shocked to learn how many families simply don’t have enough food, how many children go to bed hungry,” said Leckie. “But simply handing out food is not the solution. We work hard to educate families, teaching them how to garden, how to budget food costs, how to cook healthy food, and be responsible for their own actions.” The food pantry is helped run by volunteers and College faculty and staff like Leckie throughout the year.
Pearson’s Town Farm, owned by the College, and Rippling Waters Farm donate fresh, organic produce, while Hannaford and the community donate canned goods, frozen meat, and bakery goods. Many of the volunteers work at Saint Joseph’s College. They set up the pantry and help out when it’s open each Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. During the summer, when food insecurities for school-aged children are at their highest, two SJC employees begin making hundreds upon hundreds of sandwiches and lunches at 4 a.m. and then drive them to towns scattered around Sebago Lake. For some of the children who receive them, the lovingly made lunches may be their only meal of the day.
About the Monks’ Francis Fund
In early August 2015, a small group at SJC created The Monks’ Francis Fund. This fund, dedicated to both Pope Francis and the people served through Catherine’s Cupboard, will help promote the food pantry’s mission. The great hope is that this fund helps to reignite the spirit of Catherine’s Cupboard, that it serves as the match bringing together those who can give with those most desperately in need of that compassion.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Catherine’s Cupboard, or to donate to the Monks’ Francis Fund, contact Monica Gerrish at firstname.lastname@example.org.