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Shrine’s Franciscan Food Center Distributes Easter Treats

The recent holiday event in Boston described here is just one of many seasonal programs going on around Holy Name Province for Easter. Readers are welcomed to post news and photos of local activities on the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province Facebook page.

BOSTON — Shoppers at the Franciscan Food Center at St. Anthony Shrine found some nice surprises in the aisles last week while picking up Easter groceries: chocolate bunnies, holiday hams and personal care items.

In addition to the usual produce, grains and dairy items that one might expect at a food center, shoppers were able to select Easter candy, cookies and paper products, said Joyce Lonergan, assistant director of the food center. The center opened in 2008. Set up more like a grocery store than a food pantry, more than 1,500 registered members — families and individuals — in need come throughout the year to shop the aisles and select products.

Valuable Services
While many take toilet paper for granted, Lonergan said it was a special treat for shoppers last week, many of whom are on limited food budgets of $30 a week. “Toilet paper is very expensive,” she said.

Approximately 12,000 pounds of turkey, hams, chickens and groceries to make a complete Easter dinner were distributed on April 14 and 16, said Lonergan, human resources director for the shrine. Four hundred of the center’s members came to shop for groceries, leaving with full boxes and shopping bags. Since many shoppers had to carry the food home on public transportation, center volunteers were mindful about packing the bags.

Each week since its opening nearly three years ago, approximately 400 members have shopped at the center. Its food is stored in a walk-in freezer, without which, Lonergan said, “we would never be able to store it all.”

Most of the food for the Easter distribution was purchased with funds donated by church-goers and friends. Some was donated by grocery stores, food distributors, the Greater Boston Food Bank and the CEO Council on Hunger, Inc., and the Lindt chocolate company contributed chocolate bunnies. Other businesses, such as Deluxe Systems, CES and NETR, also were helpful.

Since the church on Arch Street does not have a loading dock, BJ’s Wholesale Club helped the center customize a system for unloading food safely and conveniently, Lonergan said.

Compassionate Ministry
Volunteers and friars gathered both days at 7:30 a.m. for prayer in English and Spanish. Ronald Stark, OFM, who is shown in one of the photos behind the image above, also participated in the recent Easter project, helping with groceries and chatting with clients.

“So many people — friars, volunteers and members — smiled so many times, from the first blessing to the last bunny. It was a wonderful day to share … with dignity, compassion and a welcome to all,” Lonergan said.

— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer based in Connecticut, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today. Jocelyn Thomas contributed to this article.

Editor’s note: Information about seasonal programs at other Holy Name Province ministries will be featured in a future issue of this newsletter. Readers — friars and partners-in-ministry — are welcomed to submit reports and photos to the HNP Communications Office by email.