Sister Mary Josette – Dancing in Heaven Buffalo, NY
Sunshine, warm temperatures, smiling faces, generous hearts, and willing hands fashioned a blessed Day of Service, an overwhelming demonstration of community spirit and solidarity with the poor at the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry in Buffalo, NY, on Saturday, April 12.
No doubt Mother Angela’s holy desire, “I wish I could multiply myself a thousand times and travel to all parts of the world bringing God’s love and mercy to all people,” found deep expression in the loving service offered by all involved.
According to SM Michaelanne Galas, Pantry supervisor, donations were quickly and efficiently sorted, packaged, and shelved by SM Francianne Zielezinski and volunteers from St. John Vianney School in Orchard Park, NY, and S Marilyn Ann Dudek and volunteers from Annunciation School in Elma, NY. Walk-in volunteers from the Western New York area joined in the preparation of packages that will be distributed throughout Holy Week to those in need.
S Paul Marie Baczkowski, S Sharon Marie Dombrowski and SM Fredrica Polanski, members of the 140th Anniversary Committee, along with many sisters from the central and local convents, were on hand to assist with shelving, gift intake, greeting donors as they arrived, and providing a tour of the Pantry. S Marcella Marie Garus, president of Villa Maria College, and SM Louis Rustowicz, director of mission, were among the many volunteers. Grandmothers brought their grandchildren, and mothers, along with their children, spent the morning so the young could learn and experience the joy of giving.
Sisters from Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent and St. Francis Residence as well as each of the local convents–strong and loyal supporters of the mission of the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry–had the opportunity to offer yet more of their time and treasure. The spirit of the holy Lenten season provided the sisters an occasion for almsgiving. Sacrifices made during Lent from the sisters, Personal Touch Food Service staff, nurses, aides and central convent employees enabled Sister Michaelanne to purchase a much-needed freezer.
Kyle Tobin, an Eagle Scout candidate from Troop 659 at Queen of Martyrs Parish in Cheektowaga, NY, assistant scoutmaster and Villa College student Marc Muroff, along with Troop members, cleaned and painted the storage area and built wooden pallets for additional food storage in preparation for the Day of Service.
The College Community sponsored a mini grab bag raffle for the clients and collected needed food items during the week preceding the April 12 event. The Felician Sisters, Felician Associates, College community, non-profit organizations, numerous private donors, anonymous donors, volunteers–especially SM Georgette Zielinski and Claire Keuhmeier–pantry attendant Barbara Wetzel, and Joan Mullin, campus minister, are the living stones that continue to build up the Body of Christ wounded by material poverty.
Clients and donors who came to the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry learned about the 140th Anniversary of the Felician Sisters of North America and received a holy card prepared by SM Francis Lewandowski as a reminder that “we are both giver and receiver.” Sisters who minister in schools and parishes also received the holy cards so that they could speak to the 140th Anniversary of the Felician Sisters and pray with students and staff.
In reflecting on the Day of Service, Sister Michaelanne remarked, “The earth is certainly full of the goodness of the Lord. So many have shared their goodness with us and we accept gratefully — in giving and receiving we are all blessed. Sharing in the heartfelt desire of Mother Angela to serve the poor, Sister Mary Josette Smigielski and all who support the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry in any way have and continue to nurture a culture of hope and Abundant Life by taking practical steps to alleviate poverty. Deo gratias!”