Seeing with New Eyes

Left to right: Associates Radie Roberts, Darla Budden, Laurie Noel, Jo Gullickson, Colleen Venter, Sister Marilyn Breen, Sister Joan Brincks, facilitator Keith Donovan, and Sister Jessi Beck are appropriately clothed and ready to serve a meal at the St. Thomas of Canterbury Soup Kitchen in Chicago.

During April 21-23, six associates and three sisters served in inner-city Chicago. Facilitation of the service and awareness opportunity was led by Keith Donovan of the Br. David Darst Center, which provides transformative social justice retreats and immersion experiences grounded in the LaSallian tradition and Catholic Social Teaching.

The weekend began with prayer and a brief introduction to the Darst Center staff. The group traveled to St. Thomas of Canterbury Soup Kitchen and partnered with Loyola University Chicago students to serve a meal. The soup kitchen was founded in 1978 by Catholic Workers who had been with Dorothy Day in New York. It continues to serve those in need of a hot meal every Tuesday and Friday evening from 5:30-6:30 p.m., serving between 120 to 170 people at each meal.

On Saturday, the group visited Frieda’s Place, a community-based organization that exists to meet the needs of individuals in Chicago experiencing poverty and hunger. This organization provides food, clothing and other available resources needed to improve the quality of life. At Frieda’s, service members organized clothing donations and food that would be distributed to the community. On Saturday afternoon they traveled to Taller de Jose, an agency that offers companionship and personal attention to mostly non-English speaking people who have difficulty finding their way in a complex social services system. Each staff member is trained to listen to clients in order to assess the services they need and then serve as a bridge to connect them to the health, legal and social services needed to achieve their goals.

The team also toured St. James Food Pantry, where Presentation Sisters Barbara Rastatter and Janet Stelken previously ministered.

Team members included Sisters Joan Brincks, Marilyn Breen and Jessi Beck, and Associates Darla Budden, Jo Gullickson, Laurie Noel, Radie Roberts and Colleen Venter. While in Chicago, the team was joined by Chicago Associates Anne Marie Spehar and Sister Virgie Luchsinger, SFCC, and Sisters Rachel Dunlap and Raeleen Sweeney.

Team member Jo Gullickson shares, “I find myself still processing all that we saw and heard over the weekend.  I feel this will be with me for a long time. ‘Seeing With New Eyes’ describes so well how I felt after each of these events.”