GREENVILLE, S.C. — St. Anthony of Padua Church here has been busy this summer ministering in a variety of ways.
In June, three college members of the St. Anthony Franciscan Volunteers, accompanied summer intern, Erik Lopez, OFM, from Holy Name College, and Pastor Patrick Tuttle, OFM, to Philadelphia, where they joined with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry (FVM) in a block party for the poor.
The students are from the University of Georgia at Athens and Furman University in Greenville, where Patrick is director of Catholic Campus Ministry. The group traveled in a van loaded with powdered milk, sneakers, disposable diapers and other items collected by the church to distribute to Philadelphia’s poor at the block party.
“A good time was had by all,” said Patrick, who participated in the block party with the nearby FVM for the 13th time. The party was started by St. Francis Inn 19 years ago.
“It seems to me a true taste of the kingdom, as one observes desperately poor people truly enjoy themselves, and to see so many previous Franciscan volunteers come back for a reunion” Patrick said.
Building for those in Need
In addition, the church has purchased its fifth house to be rehabilitated for a family in need.
“We are very proud of how many churches and agencies are collaborating to take up the gaping hole in the affordable housing market that leaves the poor no place to live.” Patrick said. “We have two houses occupied and three under construction. We have gained attention in the city regarding the people missing from the discussion table when considering the make-up of inner city housing.”
Ministering to African Americans
The church is collaborating with other African-American ministry groups throughout the country to collect information on the challenges of a declining African American Catholic population. Led by St. Louis’ Ferdnand Cheri, OFM, the group is creating a presentation for U.S. provincials to encourage development and understanding of skills needed to minister to African Americans, Patrick said. Ferdnand is from the Sacred Heart Province.
As formation programs all over the country prepare to serve the massive Latino immigration, the group is mindful of not ignoring the need for service to all people, especially those most neglected.