Thank Yous – Winter 2020

Your Continued Assistance throughout the Year Enables Us to Carry Out Our Mission – Thank You

M/M Stephen MacLean of Athol; M/M Robert McMahon, Ms. Debra Marchand, Ms. Jane Budzyna of Auburn; M/M Theodore Twarog of Barre; Mrs. Fran Gill of Berlin; Mr. Daniel Hall, M/M Angelo Guadagno of Boston; M/M Robert Svenning of Boylston; M/M George Oprica of Brookfield; Mrs. Beth Tobin, M/M Theodore Heywood, M/M Paul Faford, M/M Kent Perron of Charlton;  

M/M William Staruk, Ms. Kristen King, Ms. Paula Arsenault of Douglas; M/M David Lavoie of Dudley; M/M George Conrad, Mr. Michael Conrad of Framingham; M/M Steven Shields of Gardner; Mr. John O’Dea of Grafton; Mr. Joseph Klimavich of Gilbertville; M/M James Adams, M/M Brendan Donahue, M/M James Ridick of Holden; M/M Gary Seidenberg of Hopedale; Mr. Anthony Diloreto, St. Mary’s Church, Rev. Timothy Brewer, Mr. James McCluskey of Jefferson; 

Ms. Cynthia Garabedian of Leicester; Wayne Phipps, Ms. Sharon Collins of Mendon; M/M Bruce Pease, Mr. Michael Swetz, Jr. of Millbury; Deacon/Mrs. John Dugan of Millville; Deacon/Mrs. Lee Packard of Milford; M/M James Duffy of Natick; Mary Mattock, M/M Christopher Scholl, Deacon/Mrs. Joseph McCaffrey, M/M Thomas McCloskey, Ms. Brenda Seymour, M/M John Tegan, III, Ms. Virginia White,  M/M Louis Gaviglia, M/M Brian Seppa, Helping Hands Association, Ms. Jane O’Toole, St. Rose of Lima, Rev. James Houston, Pastor, Mr. Andrew Sherwin of Northborough; 

Mrs. Mary Jane Cuzzupe of North Grafton; Ms. Margaret McDevitt of Orange; M/M Richard Davis of Paxton; St. Scholastica Priory of Petersham; Ms. Jacqueline Gordon of Rochdale; Ms. Lynn Amsden, Deacon/Mrs. Paul Audette of Rutland; M/M Andrew Mendelson of Salem; M/M John Matraia, Ms. Bridget Bergan, Drs. Thomas and Susan Breen, Ms. Susan Leahy, Mr. David Ambach, Mr. Berie Rivard of Shrewsbury; Ms. Patricia Faron of Spencer; Fitch Hill Farm, Ms. Cheryl Cacciatore of Sterling; Deacon/Mrs. Walter Doyle, M/M Eugene Mossa, M/M Jeffrey Remillard, M/M Charles Trainor, Ms. Patricia Loughlin, Mr. John Terry, M/M Albert Petkus of Sutton; M/M Daniel Lambert, M/M Richard Gentili of Upton; Rev. Dennis O’Brien of Uxbridge; Anna George, Mr. David Wheeler of West Boylston; Mr. Stephen DeVincent, Mr. Linda O’Donnell, Mr. William Graves, M/M Kenneth Jones of Westborough; Ms. Linda Belliveau of Westwood; M/M Paul Sullivan of Wilmington; Mr. James Morrison of Williamstown; 

Deacon/Mrs. Myles Hayes, Dr/Mrs. Donald Favreau, Mr. Dennis O’Connor, Mr. Michael Gregoire, M/M James Ridick, Carol Johnston, Mrs. Mary Chase, Ms. Beth Lemieux, Mr, Richard Gill, Rosemary Adutwum, Sr. Ellen Guerin, Mrs. Paula Cobb, Francis McKiernan, Jose Portillo, Mr. Joseph Trent, Ms. Marjorie Streeter, Ms. Lynda Wasilewski, Ms. Abigail Adarku Tettey, Ms. Kathleen Farley,  M/M Andrew Tanacea, Ms. Susan Arraje, Mrs. Frances McAvey, M/M Theodore Minka, Mr. Charles Thompson of Worcester;

M/M Edward Wilchynski of Yarmouth Port; Mrs. Judy Cassella of Baldwin, NY; M/M Robert DeJoie of Ocean Isle Beach, NC; M/M Stefan Wawzyniecki of Vernon, CT; M/M L. Michael Warnalis of Bedford, VA; Ms. Emma Wiersma, Ms. Jane Clark

A Christmas Moment 2020

This is a story that happened while I was doing Christmas entry. I had a mother of three quietly approach me about signing up her children. When she spoke to me, I looked up from the keyboard as I opened the entry screen. She was well-dressed and I immediately began to wonder if she understood our program. So I asked her, “Do you receive food stamps?” “No,” she replied as she shook her head no. “Do you work?” I asked. “I am unemployed.” she said, “For the first time in my life.” I saw it in her eyes, that fear of the unknown. “How many weeks do you have left?” I asked. “Four,” she replied and her eyes became wet as she tried to hide them with her hand. “That’s tough,” I replied, “But if you can show me how much you are receiving for unemployment I will see if you qualify for our program.” Once again, I saw the fear pass in her eyes. I reviewed her unemployment check amount, it was a little over $400 per week. “You’re OK,” I said, we can put you into the system and hopefully we can get you some toys. A small smile came across her face and I noticed that she relaxed a little as if I had somehow removed a terrible weight from her, but the fear in her eyes was still there.

As I was entering the information for each of her children, you know, first name, social security number, year of birth, gender, and which toys for each child, I noticed an older couple pass behind her and I recognised them as members from a local church that donates clothing and bottles and cans on a regular basis. The lady motioned to me to get my attention. I thought I could finish up the entry for the mother, but the lady kept waving a little more frantically, so I excused myself from the mother and moved about six feet away from where I was doing the entry. The couple leaned forward as if to tell me a secret that they didn’t want anyone else to hear. “Excuse us,” she said, “but I want to write you a check for the Christmas Program. Can you take a check?” “Of course,” I quickly replied, “We take money any way we can!” We all laughed. She took out her checkbook and proceeded to write a check for $500. She quickly folded it in half and slid it across the counter to me saying “This is for toys for the children you are trying to help.” “Thank you,” I said and I just happened to glance at the mother I was doing an entry for and she was just standing there, her eyes opened as wide as can be!

I had a thought. So I said to the couple who just made the donation, “I would like you to meet someone who will benefit from your tremendous generosity. Would that be Ok? They both shook their head yes although I did sense some trepidation. I turned to the mother and said, “I would like you to meet some of the people who are very willing to support your family during this great time of trial.” The mother visibly shaken said, “I was listening to your conversation and I want to tell you just how happy you have made me.” There were tears running down her cheeks, the fear in her eyes was gone, replaced by sparkly eyes. The couple was standing there visibly touched by her words and I noticed tears welling up in their eyes as they quickly rubbed them to prevent a deeper feeling from rushing out. It was that very instant that I recognized what we have come to call “a Christmas Moment.” It is that point in time when we become aware that there is a Santa Claus and a newborn babe that will call us to love our neighbor all wrapped into one. We have one or two every year and I can tell you they never leave you. In fact, they leave you a changed person.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes as the couple quietly left the store and I went back to entering the family information. When I finished and had printed off the paperwork for this mother so she could claim her gifts, I looked into her eyes one last time. There was no fear, she was at peace. “Thank you and all the people who are helping you,” she whispered, and quickly left the store.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

What Urban Missionaries Do

On October 20, 2020 we will be celebrating the forty-first anniversary of service to the “least, the last, and the left out.” It is with mixed emotions I come to this point. First of all, the number 41 is staggering. It seems like 41 days, not 41 years. Secondly, we will have to have a dumbed-down celebration due to the restrictions placed upon us because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

When Kathy and I said the first “yes” back in 1979 to help resettle a family of thirteen from Vietnam, we had no idea of the road we had set our feet upon. Over the years we have had the privilege of helping many wonderful people who were willing to share their lives and culture with us. We also had the opportunity to meet and get to know many people who responded to our calls for help and came forward with “their time, talents and treasure.” The number is in the thousands, but each one twinkles like a star in the heavens.

The latest group of volunteers came to help amid the cries of caution and all the voices proclaiming, “protect yourself, stay apart, and watch out because the other guy could infect you with Covid-19.” This group of five young people and two leaders came to help. It was the only group this year, so far, that had the courage to step out and help.

Of course we accepted their request to help, but not without determining how to do it safely. Masks must be worn, hand sanitizer must be used. “Wash those hands,” were the cautionary words for the four days they were here cutting back the bushes that had grown up around the fence and were almost covering the stairs to the footbridge next to our parking lot. And did I tell you it was HOT? It really was and they worked through it with smiles on their faces. What an example of Urban Missionaries spirituality – doing small works of charity.

When they finished, one of the young ladies approached me and asked if she and her friends could bring in some school supply donations. “Of course,” I replied, “We could get them into the store for the beginning of school. A few weeks later they back came wearing their Urban Missionaries T Shirts, with bags of school supplies. We took a picture in our warehouse next to the clothes sorting and pricing table. The young lady who brought up the question concerning school supplies asked, “what kind of clothing do you need?” I replied, “what we need most are the consumables, like underwear, socks, towels. These items usually get used until they’re done.” “Ok”, she said, “Let me see what I can do.”  Since then she has brought in bags of new socks and underwear and towels. I just wanted to give her a big hug, but I can’t, in the time of COVID!!  

This year we cannot gather as a community of Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope due to the Covid-19 restrictions. So we are going to gather on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 as we do every Tuesday for a communion service. It’s what we do, we pray, constantly. 

The highlight of the service will be the induction of another Urban Missionary into the service of the “least the last and the left out. It is a simple ceremony, where the applicant makes promises not to poverty but to live simply, not to chastity, but to live faithfully, not to obedience, but to live respectfully. and receive the missionary blessing:

Abba, Father, we ask you to

Bless the mind of your servant so they may understand “love of neighbor” for all your children.

Bless the heart of your servant so they may feel the pain of all your children.

Bless the shoulders of your servant so they may carry the burdens of your children.

Bless the eyes of your servant so they may see the injustices visited on your children.

Bless the ears of your servant so they may hear the cries of anguish of your children.

Bless the hands of your servant so they hold the tears of your children.

Bless the knees of your servant so they may kneel often in prayer for your children.

Bless the feet of your servant so they walk among your children.

Bless the tongue of your servant so they praise your name eternally.

And so Father we ask that your finger touch the soul of your servant so that they may know they are yours.

We ask this through your Son, who lives, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit

Then we will have a welcoming lunch. As in everything we do, it will be small, simple, and in honor of the Lord!

Our Need For Volunteers

We have a dilemma of the worst kind because there seems to be no way to resolve it, but we really do need to resolve this one. The dilemma is, we need volunteers, always, not just at Christmas time, but every week of the year. We don’t just need the helping hands of the young people, but the brain power of professionals such as lawyers, marketers, social media gurus, social workers, etc. The dilemma is, how do we get you to volunteer in a pandemic?

The world has changed because of Covid-19, no doubt about it. The majority of us, wanting to act responsibly toward others, have put restrictions on just how much risk we are willing to take even within our own family, much less with strangers. We appreciate this position, and have embraced some of it for ourselves.

To overcome some of these barriers, we have implemented a safety program that is in compliance with federal and state guidelines. We always wear masks, even while writing this article. We sanitize our hands whenever we go in or out of the warehouse and store area. We have gloves to wear. We have set up screens to protect our store employees. We sweep and wash. We have restricted children under the age of 18 from coming into the store. 

For our Christmas program this year, we are restricting volunteer group size to five with one adult leader for groups coming to help sort, bag and pass out gifts. We have spread out the intake process to reduce the size of the line waiting to sign up. We will offer only prepackaged snacks for our Christmas volunteers. Sadly, no Coney Island hot dogs this year!

To get an idea of what volunteer opportunities are available go to then click on careers to see some of the positions that need filling. Of course if the spirit moves you to do something and you are not sure how your particular talents can help, call us at 508-831-7455 and we will explore ways your talents can help. 

And lastly, I leave you with  the words enjoined on us by Saint John Paul II, “Be not afraid. . .”

Christmas Prep

Around a year ago, Walter and Kathy asked if I would be interested in attending a day-long workshop on management. Considering I was going to get what amounted in my mind to a paid day off to learn, the answer was of course, yes. I won’t bore you with the details, but I wound up learning quite a lot that day. In fact, I use a lot of the lessons learned there almost every day in my responsibilities as retail operations manager. 

One thing I learned, in particular, was the concept of putting things in different buckets. You should always have three buckets. The first is where you put things that are both important and vital. These things need to happen, or whatever it is you’re trying to do won’t get done. For instance, paying the electricity bill for the LittleStore. The second is where you put things that are important, but not vital, such as plugging in the open sign every morning in the LittleStore. Finally, there are things which are neither important nor vital, the things that can be put off for another day.

Now, as he was introducing these concepts to us, the instructor would ask the class for examples. I wasn’t sure about an example for items that were both important and vital, but when he asked about an example for that second bucket, important but not vital I was quite sure. You see, I had been informed earlier in the month that I had a drop-dead date, every Christmas decoration we own had to be displayed in the LittleStore by the first Saturday in October. Tentatively, shyly, I raised my hand thinking that it sounded ridiculous, but that it also fit the bill. “Who cares about Christmas decorations in October,” I thought, even as my hand went into the air.

I hadn’t said anything all class, so the instructor called on me as soon as he saw my hand raised. I answered and the instructor slapped his hands together loudly. “That’s one of the better examples of the second bucket,” He said with a laugh. Something that needed to be done, but wasn’t the end of the world. 

On Saturday, October 3rd, I put all the Christmas decorations up again. Christmas lights, our nativity scene, Christmas music playing, and boxes of Christmas items for the customers in the store to peruse. The idea doesn’t seem as ridiculous as it once did. Why shouldn’t I be thinking about Christmas in October? Hopefully, I never get as bad as Walter and Kathy, who seem to think of Christmas constantly. 

I’ve even started thinking about putting those decorations in a different bucket, maybe they belong in bucket number one after all (except the Christmas music).

From the Director

The beat rolls on! We are still spending a fair amount of time worrying about Covid-19 concerns. Every program has been impacted, as well as every person working in the ministry. We are constantly questioning ourselves daily about how well we are complying with the mandates from the state, as well as doing what is necessary for the Common Good.

As you can see, we have changed the style of StreetLights. Jeff Hall came up with a tool that makes it much easier to generate StreetLights and gives it a much more refreshing look. We will continue “play” with the format and style in future issues as we learn more about the capabilities of this new tool. 

We have kicked off the 2020 Christmas Giving Program and it is fraught with problems and worries on both sides of the coin, the gift-givers and the gift-getters! We got our first “are you doing the gift program this year?” on July 8, 2020. That is about two months early. Parishes have already started calling asking what we are going to do so that can determine if they will proceed or not. This is very disturbing.

The LittleStore and The Flea have been doing better than last year. In our last issue, I outlined some of the steps we were taking and it seems to be paying off. The number of people coming into the store is slowly increasing and that’s a good thing!

We have decided to extend The Flea’s season, only indoors. The Flea will be held in the shed every Saturday until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 28, 2020. Our hope is that we will recoup the revenue we lost by not being able to open on May 2, 2020.  Keep this program in your prayers!

We are still reaching out to everyone to help in some form or another in our sustainer program. We are asking that you  give it some thought and become a sustainer. It is easy to do, and takes about 5 minutes. All you need to do is go to and click on the sustain button or the paypal button to sign up.

We do understand that times are still difficult, many are mourning the loss of loved ones due to COVID – 19 and many more have not been able to properly bury their dead and moms and dads are trying to deal with a chaotic school program. You and yours are in our daily prayers.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in the midst of a pandemic. I never thought I would ever utter those words, but here I am right in the middle of it all. This year’s Christmas Giving Program, although just beginning, has already caused us a fair amount of consternation. 

It all began on July 8, 2020, with a telephone call from a very concerned mother asking, “Will you be passing out Christmas gifts this year?” You could hear the trepidation in her voice and it sent a chill up my spine. “They are already starting to panic,” I remember thinking to myself.

It was very soon after that call I started thinking about how the Christmas Giving Program could possibly work. It was never a question of if, but of how! The problem is simple to define, the potential solution, that’s another matter.

We have over fifty churches, businesses, and families that comprise the major source of Christmas gift donations. We call them giving trees. The process is, we send each location the number of gift tags they think they can get for us. Then, on the second and third Sundays of Advent we have four trucks and a crew of about twenty volunteers go and pick them up, about 7,000 gifts in all. The problem is that because parish attendance is down, around sixty to forty percent, we can expect that the number of gift tags taken from the parish giving tree will be down the same amount. That means we will have a drastic reduction in the number of gifts.

To combat this, we have come up with the idea of a virtual Christmas Giving Tree tag which allows every member of the parish to safely participate. It is a two-part process. First, they select the number of tags they would like. Then, they can drop off their gift at a participating church drop off location listed on our website, or have the gift shipped directly to us at 242 Canterbury Street.  We are asking the parishes to let their parishioners know that they can safely participate in the Giving Tree simply by going to our website,, and pressing the Christmas Giving Tree tag button to let us know how many tags they would like to have. We will get the tags to them within 24 hours.

Even with the virtual tag process, we believe that we will have a shortfall of gifts due to the panic situation I mentioned above. How much of a shortfall, we really don’t know, but we have started a Go Fund Me drive to raise $20,000 so that we can go out and buy gifts to cover the shortfall. We are especially concerned about the 11- to 14-year-olds. This category has always been the most difficult group to obtain gifts for simply because their gifts are expensive.

Another facet of this problem is volunteers. Every year we have between 225 and 250 Christmas volunteers. These magnificent people come, and with concern and love, put together a gift bag for a particular child. They do it over and over again until all 2,500 gift bags are made up, tied together by family and finally passed out to the family all before December 24th. We expect that this year, we will have to limit the number of people working at one time to ten. In anticipation of this, we extended the hours the distribution center will be open, earlier in the morning and later in the evening.

So there it is, Christmas in a pandemic!

If you would like to participate let us know how.

To get a tag and purchase a gift go to:

To help us buy gifts by donating to our go fund me page go to:

To volunteer, email us at We will need to know the date you would like to come in, what time you will arrive, how long you plan to stay, and the number of people in your group.

Please keep us in your prayers, and may you and yours have a very Blessed Christmas. May the Good Lord bless you for what you are about to do for “the least, the last, and the left out!”

What Urban Missionaries Do

As they say, “These are interesting times we live in.” No truer words have ever been spoken in my humble opinion. I don’t remember anything like this in my whole life.  Everything is so uncertain and everything seems to take forever — at the bank, post office, registry of motor vehicles, supermarkets, and superstores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. It is difficult for those of us who are native to this country, but you just can’t imagine how very difficult it is for newly arrived families. 

When we got the governor’s order to shut down and stay home we did not realize the enormity of this action and the chaos it was going to cause. We immediately tried to determine which of our programs were essential and which one we could close down without adversely impacting those who rely on these services. As we reviewed each program we asked ourselves, “Would closing down this program cause harm to those being served?” And conversely, “Would keeping this program open cause harm to those providing the services?”

We immediately thought about our Food Program and the  over one hundred families per week we were working with in order to provide their food needs. “This cannot stop,” I said, “We have to keep this going as long as we have resources to buy food, if necessary, in the event we run into a problem with receiving our supplies for the Worcester County Food Bank.” It was a no-brainer as far as we were concerned. We would have to figure out the safety precautions, etc, but no matter what we needed to keep that supply of food flowing to the community.

When we announced our plan to keep the Saint Oscar Romero food pantry at the Cathedral of Saint Paul in downtown Worcester open, no matter what the cost in procuring food or the danger of being infected, we had some serious pushback from people who said we were endangering the lives of our volunteers and ourselves. Others told us that we were on track and would pray for our protection. Believe me when I tell you we did listen to these statements and there was some serious discussion among ourselves concerning the dangers we were going to encounter.

History shows us that the Christian, seeing the problem, even in the face of danger, moves to help others, no matter who they are, what they look like, or what they believe, they are to be helped. During the Black plague, Christians stayed with the sick and dying to give aid and comfort, while everyone else fled. Our modern day hospital system has its genesis in monasteries of the Dark Ages with their primitive knowledge of medicine and the human body. 

So for us it was a very difficult decision that had to be made in favor of caring for others no matter what the cost. That’s what Christians did before us, and that’s what Christians do today, and that’s what Christians will do tomorrow, with the help of God!

From the Director

Well, the COVID – 19 pandemic still rages, although it seems to be slowly dying out. The numbers in Massachusetts are still declining, but until they reach zero new cases and zero deaths we cannot stop praying for those afflicted with this disease. 

Its effect upon our work has been as dramatic as other businesses and ministries. In my last editorial, I related how we were planning to respond, keeping all of us here safe and maintaining payroll, while we awaited aid via the Payroll Protection Program. It was a very trying time, because in March and April some were panicking, others were not giving a damn, and still others had no clue as to what the problem was.

We got lucky in our attempt to get a PPP loan. Kathy and Lois, along with our personnel advisors waded through the quagmire of federal bureaucracy that seemed to change almost daily while trying to put together a correct application. If it wasn’t for an advisor from the Small Business Administration’s SCORE program (Senior Corp of Retired Executives) who not only told us exactly what to do, but also  provided names and telephone numbers of bank personnel that would help us secure our PPP loan, we would have completely missed this opportunity. I can tell you that we would be facing a much more drastic situation than the one we are facing now.

It appears that we will be somewhere between $30,000 to $40,000 short on our budget for the remainder of this year, and we will have used up all of our rainy day monies. We will be starting next year with the same amount of money we had when we started forty years ago, zero!

But as I have told you many times before, “This is a faith ministry, He gives us exactly what we need when we need it, and not a second before or a second after.” With this in mind, we are pressing forward, ever hopeful with a number of initiatives to help speed up our recovery. 

We are working to increase the number of people coming into the LittleStore by advertising in the weekly newspaper Vocero as well as sending out biweekly store flyers via Facebook and emailing them to over 2,000 LittleStore customers.

We will open up our loyalty program to all customers. All customers will receive a 10% discount when they present their loyalty cards. Customers who are DTA clients will receive a 30% discount when they present their loyalty cards.

We are continuing our color of the month discount for any item in the store over three months.

We have extended our store hours on Thursday and Friday from 4:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.

We are going to launch our annual Sustainer Drive. This year we are introducing “The Blessed Beggar” icon as a way of making sure everyone understands that we are supported only by what alms we can get by begging.

We will be reaching out to everyone to help in some form or another.

To those who are Sustainers we will be asking if they would be willing to reach out to their family and friends to become Sustainers.

To those who come and volunteer their time for the many different programs and those who receive StreetLights we will be asking if they can join us as a Sustainer.

To those who we have interacted with in some way or another, we will send out the appeal via email and U.S. postal mail, as well as calling them to see if they would be willing to become a sustainer.

We do understand that times are difficult, many are mourning the loss of loved ones due to COVID – 19 and many more have not been able to properly bury their dead. We grieve with you and you are in our prayers.

We are sending out flyers on our Day of Prayerful Work and Fill-A-Truck programs to every parish in the Worcester Diocese. Our hope is that we will be able to convince the parish youth minister and the pastor that these two programs are a viable way for parish youth to experience “love in action” and it will help reduce our cash shortfall.

On the brighter side we have had some very good news on the housing front. Saint Stephen Housing Initiative is in line for another sizable donation to help fund the purchase of a second house for refugees, immigrants and asylees in the Worcester area. We hope to get this project started by the end of the year.

We have two new volunteers that have joined us for one day a week. Steve Shields is helping out with our computer systems and Brenda Seymour will be working with families in the Saint Stephen Housing Initiative program.  We thank them for stepping out from their busy personal lives to help with our works of mercy. Please add them to your prayer list.

Store Reopening

Like many of us, I have recently gone through some of the strangest times in my life. I am of course referring to my time spent as the Retail Operations Manager for the Urban Missionaries. Just kidding – I am talking about my whole life turned upside down during the pandemic. 

In the last issue of Streetlights, Walter gave you all an update on how we were weathering the storm, and what our future plans were. I am very pleased to report that we weathered the storm just fine, and Walter and Kathy’s plans apparently worked, or else I wouldn’t be typing this right now.

The Urban Missionaries are indeed back in business, just as the introductory article for this issue states. All our programs are running full steam and a new issue of Streetlights is out the door and in your hands. The road to get here has been rocky though. We had to shut down the whole of 242 Canterbury Street, deep clean and prepare, and then re-open and welcome our neighbors and donors back in. 

It was tough to first shutter the whole store when the pandemic was really lifting off. Some of you know me, and know that this is my first “real” job out of college. It’s a big responsibility to be trusted with the Urban Missionaries’ retail operations. Never having been responsible for something so intricate before, it was hard to let it all go, and not know if I would ever be able to reopen it again. 

As Walter told you in the last issue, he and Kathy managed to keep some of our programs running, and kept myself and all of the rest of the staff on the payroll. It is a testament to the power of this ministry to enact change in its community that we kept the lifeline of food open to people desperately in need, while keeping the lifeline of employment open to the people who work hard every day making it all a reality.

Well, eventually, I got the good news. We were going to reopen! Back to normal operations! I was terribly excited to be going back to my normal work routine. However, I had seen the inside of stores on runs to pick up toilet paper and other essentials. I knew I had some work to do.

Did you ever wonder how all those arrows and stickers on the floor of your local supermarket get there? I do! I was somewhat disappointed to learn that it was not magic, and I would have to make it all happen. With everyone’s help, we put together a floor plan, made the appropriate signage, and we even put all the little one-way arrows down. I also got to put into practice some atrophied wood working skills developed during my time at Worcester Technical High School to make a sneeze shield for the front counter. Finally, it was time to put it all to the test and re-open.

That brings us to the present day. The store is open, people are receiving help, and all the staff are back to normal work. We couldn’t be happier, and we are incredibly thankful for the community behind us, all of you, for your tireless support and friendship to this ministry. We’re going to keep going, and keep serving, and hope you will all join us for many years to come.

Thank Yous – Summer 2020

Your Continued Assistance throughout the Year Enables Us to Carry Out Our Mission – Thank You

M/M Stephen MacLean of Athol; M/M Robert McMahon of Auburn; M/M Theodore Twarog of Barre; Mrs. Fran Gill of Berlin;Mr. Daniel Hall of Boston; M/M Thomas LaRoche, Mr. Robert Chalifoux, Mr. Joe DiCelie, M/M Robert Mecca of Boylston; Mrs. Denise Cremins and Mr. Tony Forgione of Braintree; M/M George Opricaof Brookfield;  Mrs. Beth Tobin, Mr. Peter Cutting of Charlton.

M/M George Conrad, Mr. Mike Conrad, Mr. Robert O’Neil of Framingham;M/M James Adams, Mr. P. D. Jarry, Mr. Edward O’Donnell, M/M Brendan Donahue of Holden; M/M Garry Seidenberg of Hopedale; Deacon William Bilow, of Lancaster; Ms. Cynthia Garabedian of Leicester; M/M Bruce Pease of Millbury; Deacon/Mrs. John Dugan of Millville; Deacon/Mrs. Lee Packard of Milford; M/M James Duffy of Natick.                                                                    

Mary Mattock, M/M Christopher Scholl, Deacon/Mrs. Joseph McCaffrey, M/M Thomas McCloskey, M/M John Tegan, III, M/M Paul Morin of Northborough; Mrs. Mary Jane Cuzzupe of North Grafton;Ms. Ellin Clifford of North Oxford;  Mrs. Margaret McDevitt of Orange; M/M Richard Davisof Paxton; St. Scholastica Priory and St. Mary’s Monastery of Petersham; Ms. Lynn Amsden of Rutland; M/M Andrew Mendelson of Salem;M/M John Matraia, Ms. Margaret Wykes, Mr. David Gates of Shrewsbury.                           

Ms. Maureen Hanlon of Spencer; Ms. Brenda Seymour, Mr. Steven Morgaw of Sterling; M/M Eugene Mossa, M/M Jeffrey Remillard, M/M Charles Trainor, Ms. Patricia Loughlin, Mrs. Valerie Mancini of Sutton; M/M Daniel Lambert, M/M Richard Gentili, of Upton; Msgr. Michael G Foley, Pastor, St. Luke’s Parish, Barry H’s Cleanup of Westborough; Ms. Linda Belliveau of WestwoodSharon Farnsworth, Barbara Davis of Whitinsville. 

Deacon/Mrs. Myles Hayes, Mrs. Anita Kelley, Dr/Mrs. Donald Favreau, Mr. Dennis O’Connor, Mr. Michael Gregoire, M/M James Ridick, Carol Johnston, Mrs. Mary Chase, Mr. Paul Johnson, Ms. Helen Fitzgerald, Barbara Murphy, Thu Nguyen, Lynda Cote, Theodore Minka of Worcester.

M/M Edward Wilchynski of Yarmouth Port; M/M Robert Schwall of Boulder CO;M/M Robert DeJoie of Ocean Isle Beach, NC; M/M Stefan Wawzynieckiof Vernon, CT;M/M L. Michael Warnalis of Bedford, VA.

Sandwich Service

The needs do not stop coming in just because the Governor says, stop.  On March 19, 2020, I received a call from Mike Boover, a Catholic Worker from the Mustard Seed in Worcester. They had two groups back out of their commitment to supply 100 bag lunches for April 3 and 9, 2020. He called wondering, “Is there any way the Urban Missionaries could help?”

I immediately started to call our different resources that might have the capability to produce one-hundred sandwiches and desserts. After a few calls, and as I was saying a  bunch of Hail Marys, the thought came to me, “How about St. Mark’s and how about the Knights of Columbus Council 12710 at Saint Mark’s?”  With everyone homebound maybe they would be up to this task. So I call my Pastor, Fr. Mike, and asked, “Are you bored?” “Yes,” came his reply with a giggle in his voice. “Well,” I said, “How would you like to help out the Mustard Seed. They need one-hundred bag lunches for April 3, 2020. Think the parishioners would be able to get it done?” “Yes, what do we need to do?” he promptly replied. I told him I would get the details and get back to him. When I called my friend Mike, I left a message. I received a call from Paula Bushey from the Mustard Seed. She gave me all the information as to what and what not to put into the bag. I relayed this information to Fr. Mike. Within twenty-four hours, I  received a Flocknote message from Saint Mark’s announcing the lunch bag drive.

Two days later, I received another Flocknote message announcing that thirty-eight meals had been signed for. “Not bad,” I thought,  “I hope they come through for us!” Then the count went to eighty-one, then to ninety-eight, then to one-hundred twelve!!!  I had the blessing of picking up the food bags on April 3, from 9:30 AM to 12:00, in the pouring rain may I add.  Then it was off to the Mustard Seed to meet Paula and offload the bags of food. Did I mention the pouring rain?

In the meantime, I sent an email to our Grand Knight, Gary Pothier, asking if it would be OK to send an appeal to the Knights to supply one-hundred bagged lunches for April 9, 2020. I got an immediate reply, “Walter I will send out the notice to the Knights and see what the response is.”  An hour later I received the appeal from Gary in an email. Within two hours we got the first reply from a brother Knight, Deacon Dan Lavoie, “We will do ten meals.” And it was on, within five days we had pledges for one-hundred seventeen bagged lunches. I will be picking up the Knights donation and delivering it to the Mustard Seed. God is Good!!

And then, on April 2, 2020, I was looking through my Facebook account and saw this, “Does anyone have a laptop I can borrow for a couple of weeks?”  I immediately wrote, “Contact me at” Within minutes I received an email. “Thank you, do you have a laptop?” I replied, “Where do you live?” she answered, “In Gardner.”  I replied, “I am in Worcester. Can you come to Worcester to pick up the laptop?” She replied, “Yes I can. I go to Our Lady of Lourdes in Worcester and Fr. Brian O’Toole does the rosary and morning prayer on Zoom so that is why I need the laptop.” I sent her instructions on how to get to the Cathedral of Saint Paul and set up an appointment for 10:00 A.M. on April 4, 2020. God is very good!

At 10:00 A.M,  She was ringing the doorbell. I opened the door and invited her into the hallway of the food pantry. I gave her the laptop and reviewed what she would need to do to get it on the internet so she could use Zoom.  She thanked me profusely and left with the biggest smile any face could conjure up.  God is very, very good!

As of April 9, 2020 we are able to handle all of the food requests and any other requests for help that come our way.

What Urban Missionaries Do

In this time of calamity!

Like everyone else, we are staying in place with as little physical contact with others as possible. It was kind of surreal when we arrived home from our vacation and found ourselves face-to-face with having to make some very serious decisions concerning the LittleStore and its employees, as well as our own living arrangements and our family’s well-being.

We decided to close down all operations, except the food distribution program, on Sunday, March 15, 2020. We did close down the pickups at the area supermarkets, but decided that we needed to keep our food pantry operation up and running.   We decided that we would deliver food on an emergency basis to people who were calling into our office or into Saint Paul’s looking for emergency food and we would deliver the food to their house.

So, on Monday, March 16, Kathy and I were in the office at 7:30 A.M. trying to come up with a procedure to handle the food deliveries. The very first thing we did was put signs at the store and Saint Paul Food Pantry letting people know we would be closed for the duration, but we would fulfill any requests for food via delivery. 

On Tuesday, I started delivering food donations. It started slowly, three or four deliveries per day. Then it started to increase, ten, fifteen, then twenty! By March 30th we were getting 50 phone calls each day for food! We were being buried by appeals for help. Knowing that we could not possibly provide that much food, we decided that we would need to apply some restrictions to whom we could supply food. The gating factor was, how much food would we be receiving from the Worcester County Food Bank?

I made a call to our support person at the Food Bank to determine what they thought the level of supply of food would be. They assured me that I could expect at least what we had been receiving on a monthly basis for the past year and there is a possibility of more because they were going to an appointment basis for all pickups and he had put St. Paul’s down for every Friday at 1:00 P.M.  This was good news because it meant that I could, with some confidence, supply up to 300 families with food per month and possibly more if the extra food came to fruition.

 With this in mind we set the following criteria:

Anyone 60 years or more

Anyone living in a shelter

Anyone on DTA (Department of transitional assistance)

Anyone living in zip code 01608, 01609, and 01610

With these criteria in place, we are now doing ten to twenty families per day and the food supply seems to be holding up. Throughout this crisis, as always we rely on the dedication of our volunteers and donors in order to serve the people who are the first to be left out. The Urban Missionaries are not going anywhere, and together we will continue to serve however we can, whenever we can!

From the Director

Well as you all know, we are in very difficult times. We are trying to work our way through as best we can. We have closed the LittleStore until May 4, 2020, as of now, but it might go later! We have closed down all of our other ministries, except immigration, which we are running on a telephone or email basis because of time requirements on some Federal documents. We are running our food program at full steam because food is essential and we have a lot of experience in this arena.

I do want to call your attention to our staff, their situation, our investment committee, our board of directors, and our financial analyst and how they all have risen to the occasion. When we closed everything down the very first question that we needed to address was, do we lay them off immediately or keep them on. Well at first it was an easy decision since the close down was until April 2, 2020, but when the closedown order was extended until May 4, 2020, we panicked because of our fragile financial position!

The first thing we did was get a Zoom meeting with our investment committee and financial analyst to determine, given our current available cash, how long could we keep paying our employees. The answer wasn’t good. We would not be able to pay them through the May 4, 2020, mandatory closing period. The writing was on the wall, we would have to lay them off. 

Kathy and I then did a Zoom meeting with the staff for two reasons. One was that we hadn’t seen any of them since we left for vacation on February 21, 2020, and we wanted to see them! The second reason was to explain as best we could the situation we found ourselves in. We would continue to pay them during the forced shutdown. That we were applying for the Payroll Protection Plan from the Federal Government, but that we had to have a yes or no answer before April 11, 2020. If we did not hear that our application had been accepted by this date we would have to lay them off.  They were troopers. They agreed to our plan and thanked us for all the work we were doing on their behalf.

The next step was to let the board of directors know what we were thinking. So we did a Zoom meeting with them.  The board listened very closely to what we were saying. After forty-five minutes of discussion of the information we received from our meeting with the investment committee, financial analyst, and the government concerning the payroll protection plan, it was agreed that we would lay off the employees by April 12, 2020, because if we paid out wages after that date we would seriously jeopardize our ability to reopen the LittleStore, because we would not have enough cash for the startup.

Simultaneously, while all of this was going on Kathy and Lois were working on our application for the Payroll Protection Program from the Federal Government. I have to tell you their effort to work through the morass of information and dig out all of the information required was nothing short of heroic!

First of all, they had to decide to whom we would apply. It was through a friend of the ministry that we found out that we need to apply through a bank and not through the Small Business Administration. Kathy started a search and found that unless we had an account with the bank in question we could not apply. So we checked our two banks which we do business with, and found only one was participating in the program. 

So Kathy got the forms from their web site and started to accumulate the sixteen pages or so of the information required only to find out the next day that all the payroll reports needed to be redone because the first set of instructions changed and the new ones “just issued” called for a new date range. Finally, on April 4, 2020, we submitted our application and all of the supporting documentation via email to our bank. And then we waited and waited and waited. Nothing. No emails saying we got your information and it is good, or bad, or incomplete or you are approved, nothing.

So we started to call people, the bank contact person’s voice mailbox was full! We then tried to contact the Small Business Administration., We were contacted by a SCORE representative that sent us links to “all you ever wanted to know about” , well anything. We then turned to our Congressman, we got an email from him after 3 or 4 days with, you guessed it, links to “all you ever wanted to know about the PPP and everything else.”

On April 9, 2020, I emailed the SCORE representative and told him our situation and he sent us the email of the contact at the SBA who handles the PPP incoming applications. Kathy immediately called him. He was very nice and somewhat helpful. He told us that our application had not been received, but our bank was indeed submitting them. He then happily announced, “don’t worry about the money running out. We haven’t even gone through our first billion yet!” And this is the problem in the Government’s mind. 

But it truly misses the point! As a very small business, our fuse is much shorter than a company of 300 or 500 employees. They most likely have the cash to continue to pay their employees, but they all seem to have laid off their employees as soon as they could. We, on the other hand, are six employees and we didn’t want to put any of them into a situation where their income would be jeopardized.

So we hung on as long as we could and on April 11, 2020, we furloughed all the employees except our accountant. I cannot remember a more difficult day in our 40-year history. It is not over yet and I will catch you up in our next issue of StreetLights.

Christmas Thank Yous

Your Continued Assistance throughout the Year Enables Us to Carry Out Our Mission – Thank You

M/M Stephen MacLean of Athol; 

M/M Robert McMahon, Christian Klaucle, M/M Paul Verderese, Rev. Richard Jakubauskas, Mrs. Mary McCarthy, Debra Marchand of Auburn; 

M/M Theodore Twarog, M/M Brian Inman of Barre; 

Mrs. Fran Gill, of Berlin 

Mr. Daniel Hall of Boston;

M/M Robert Mecca, Susan Belfield of Boylston; 

M/M Anthony J. Forgione – Cremins of Braintree; 

M/M George Oprica, Rev. Richard Jakubauskas of Brookfield; 

Mrs. Beth Tobin, of Charlton; 

Ms. Kristen King, M/M Richard Boucher of Douglas; 

Susan Peek of Dudley; 

M/M George Conrad, Mr. Michael Conrad of Framingham;

Deacon/Mrs. Anthony Fiore of Harvard; 

M/M James Adams, Ms. June Dumas,  M/M James Ridick of Holden; 

Ms. Irene Campbell of Holliston; 

M/M Garry Seidenberg, Deacon/Mrs. David Vaillancourt, Jessica LeMabre of Hopedale; 

Deacon William Bilow of Lancaster; 

Ms. Cynthia Garabedian of Leicester;

Mrs. Nancy Ciere of Lunenburg;  

Beverly Kozlowski of Medway; 

Sharon Collins of Mendon; 

M/M Bruce Pease of Millbury; 

Deacon/Mrs. John Dugan of Millville; 

Deacon/Mrs. Lee Packard of Milford;                                                                                                           

Mary Mattock, M/M Christopher Scholl, Deacon/Mrs. Joseph McCaffrey, M/M Thomas McCloskey, Ms. Brenda Seymour, M/M John Tegan, III, M/M Paul Murphy, Ms. Theresa Trombetta, M/M John Gallagher, M/M Paul Morin, Mr. Matthew Sherwin, M/M William O’Toole, Tougas Family Farm of Northborough; 

Mrs. Mary Jane Cuzzupe, Arlene Bragg, Christopher Staszak, Mr. Peter Alex of North Grafton;

Ms. June Patsky of Oakham;

M/M Richard Davis, Mrs. Louise Cournoyer of Paxton; 

St. Scholastica Priory, St. Mary’s Monastery of Petersham; 

Ms. Lynn Amsden of Rutland; 

M/M Andrew Mendelson of Salem;

M/M John Matraia, Madelyn Anusbigian, M/M Sang Nguyen, M/M James Kavanagh, Mr. Michael Conrad, M/M Thomas Devine, Gloria Power, Mrs. Leah Devine, Mrs. Joan Rhodes  of Shrewsbury; 

Ms. Annette McCarthy of South Grafton;                                                                                                                                                                                     

Ms. Maureen Hanlon of Spencer;

Mr. Steven Morgan of Sterling; 

M/M Eugene Mossa, M/M Jeffrey Remillard, M/M Charles Trainor, Ms. Patricia Loughlin, M/M Al Petkus, M/M Gerald Donahue, Mr. Mark Bailey of Sutton; 

M/M Daniel Lambert, M/M Richard Gentili, Rosemary Quirk, M/M Paul Pirozzi of Upton; 

Mr. Roland Malboeuf, Linda Neff of Webster; 

Mr. James Harry Duchesne, Cynthia Williamson of West Boylston; 

Knights of Columbus 15972 Council, Mr. Joseph Macchia of Westminster;

M/M Vincent Agnello of Weston; 

Ms. Linda Belliveau of Westwood;

Mr. James Morrison of Williamstown;

Deacon/Mrs. Myles Hayes, Dr/Mrs. Donald Favreau, Mr. Dennis O’Connor, Mr. Michael Gregoire, M/M Brendan Donahue, M/M James Ridick, Carol Johnston, Deacon/Mrs. Michael Chase, Ms. Lan Le, M/M Frank Petrella, Alan’s Locksmith CO, Mr. Alan Doiron, Notre Dame Educational Bridge Center, Mrs. Patricia Campbell,  Mr. Antonio D’Allesandro, Colours LLC, Dorothy Scesny, Mavoureen Robert, Celeste Hedge, Mr. Paul Johnson, M/M Anthony Zamarro, Mrs. Karen Hall, Marie Daguilt, Barbara Murphy, Ms. Amelia Suarez, Venerini Sisters, Sr. Irene Moran MPV of Worcester;

M/M Edward Wilchynski of Yarmouth Port; 

M/M Stefan Wawzyniecki of Vernon, CT;

M/M John Becconsall of Boynton Beach, FL;

St. Anne Parish of Hampstead, NH;

M/M Raymond Cassella of Baldwin, NY;

M/M Robert DeJoie of Ocean Isle Beach, NC; 

Rev. Homer Royer of East Greenville, PA; 

M/M L. Michael Warnalis of Bedford, VA;

What Urban Missionaries Do

Here we were neck deep in Christmas, working every day from 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. from Saturday, December 7 to Monday, December 23. With volunteers working tirelessly to fill bags, hopefully matching that special gift with that special child. Then, a request comes to help. Not just your ordinary, “Can you help me with the rent this month, or can you help me with heat this month.”  No, it was can you help five Karenni high school students earn a monthly stipend!

Our friend, Mr. Steve Devincent, had come up with an incentive plan to fund a program to motivate these students by giving them a stipend of $30.00 per week for three hours service work or training in English or computers as long as they maintained a B average or better. My first reaction was, “Heck No! We don’t have time for this. Everyone is already working at their maximum effort – how can we take this project on?” As I started to think about it, however,  I thought maybe we could squeeze it in using a shoehorn.

I decided that if the students’ schedule was flexible enough we could use them at the LittleStore or Saint Oscar Romero food pantry at the Cathedral of St. Paul on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. “Hmmm,” I thought, “This may work out.”

I responded to Steve and told him about my ideas for managing this program, how and when the students receive their stipends, and the B average requirement.  He agreed and we decided to have an introductory meeting with all the students, Kathy, Steve, and myself. 

At the introductory meeting, we introduced the students to what we do at Urban Missionaries and how we thought we could be of some help to them, if they wanted to avail themselves of it. We found out that they were Myanmar by culture and Thailanders by birth. Their first ten years of life on God’s good earth was spent in a relocation camp awaiting relocation to another country that would accept them. Their schooling was totally unlike our schooling and they all had to learn English once they got to the United States. They are painfully shy to the point where we need to address very explicit questions to them to find out any information. A tough jump to make for anyone.

We then laid out the ground rules for how they would get paid, what their work schedule would be, and how we would get them to Saint Oscar food pantry. We also spent some time trying to figure out what kind and how much computer training they would receive. We found out they knew very little about computers, but they showed interest in learning more. We decided that we would spend one hour a week on computer and eEnglish issues.

We are now a couple of weeks into the program and as expected we have hit a few bumps on the road, but everyone pulls together and we work our way out of the situation. The students are getting comfortable interacting with the clients at the food pantry. They have taught us that they are fast learners and very hard workers. So please keep the program, The Student Incentive Program, in your prayers and if you are so moved as to make a donation, please make a note designation to The Student Incentive Program. 

Christmas 2019 Recap

Christmas 2019 has come and gone like a thief in the night! Like all of its sister Christmases past, it had its high moments and its low moments. When all is said and done, 1,900 children received a wonderful gift of charity from people who they don’t even know. We can only imagine the smiling  faces and the sound of joyful giggles from these children when they saw what “Santa” had brought them. It only matches the smiling faces and joyful giggles of our Christmas volunteers when they “found the right gift” for a child whose bag they were filling. It brings  a smile to my face every time I think about it!

What about that anonymous gang of about 7,000 people who take a tag or two or three and head into the shopping frenzy to find the “right” gift for a little boy or girl whom they only know by their first name, their age, gender, their coat size and the requested gift. To them, Christmas is a time to worry about the other, be they big or small, black or white, Christian or otherwise, whether they live in my town or far away.  It’s not a time to quibble about our differences, it is a time to show the love God has for all his creation.  When I think about them, I pause whatever I am doing and say a prayer that God will bless their work. 

This year, we were able to sign up 891 families with 1,883 children which works out to about 12,000 gifts. We were blessed to have a few families sign up to volunteer December 22 and 23, 2019. This allowed us to process another 33 families to receive Christmas toys! Because of the generosity of everyone who contributed to our Christmas appeal we were able to waive the $5.00 donation fee for 41 families. Another interesting Christmas fact for you to ponder is that from December 16th to the 23rd we had 169 families sign up. This is startling because we started taking names on October 5, 2019!

So with all this good Christmas news, let me tell you how the season ended. It is December 24, 2019 and it is 11:58 A.M.  I had dismantled all of the computers and packed away all the partitions we use to create a data entry space in the shed, packed up all the heaters, shut off the gas to the building, neatly arranged the gift bags for the 18 families who had not yet claimed their gifts and I had just finished bagging the cash register we use for Christmas to protect it until we need it again next year, when there was a knock on the door! “I can’t believe it,” I said to myself in complete despair. Whenever this happens it is never good. 

I opened the door and a young mother said, “I am here to pick up my gifts.” “A little late,” I thought to myself. “But I don’t have my paper.” she said. “Well, “ I said, “Without the slip of paper (by the way this is the receipt we give at sign up and it has the identifying family number on it so we can identify which bags belong to which family.) I can’t find your gifts. “Well,” she said. “Can’t you look it up?” “No,” I said because everything is shut down. All the computers are dismantled, the offices are all closed up for the holidays, and I am on my way home to be with my family.” “Are you sure?”  she said angrily. It was then that I took a good look at her and noticed that she was “high” on something and my defense mechanism kicked in. Was she really going to give the kids their gifts or were they going to be sold for more drug money? So I told her to come back on Thursday after Christmas and bring her slip of paper and we would be able to get her gifts. This way I thought the kids might have a better chance of getting the gifts even if it was after Christmas.  She took a step back and just looked at me for a few seconds and without another word turned and got into a car and left. Here it is well after New Year’s Day, and I still haven’t seen her. This still haunts me in the still of the night!

From the Director

As we start the year 2020, we have many issues to face, ideas to weigh, and people to meet. In 2019, we started our housing and student incentive programs. We saw increased traffic at both our food pantries. Additionally, some of our involved volunteers are cutting back. All of these have made us realize, once again, “the poor will be with us always.”

Once again, when I opened the doors at 5:00 A.M. on October 5, 2019 there were 4 mothers waiting for us. When events like this happen it always brings me back to a talk I gave at a church concerning the Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope. Someone asked, “What’s it like to work in your ministry?” Without any hesitation at all I said, “I am like a sand castle maker at the seashore. Every morning I go out to the seashore and build sand castles and when evening comes, I go home. The next morning when I go out to build more sand castles, all the ones I made yesterday were gone, washed away by the tide, so I start all over building a new set of sand castles.” 

When I look forward, I see the need for volunteers who can take on some program responsibilities, not many maybe two or three at the most, because of the growth we have been experiencing. All of a sudden we need a volunteer to handle the administrative tasks of the ministry. We are chasing the city trying to get tax exemptions for our refugee property, the DOT is now on us and we can’t get a straight answer whether we are exempt or not, or find an accountant that can help us reduce our $7,000 in accounting firm fees just to do our taxes. All of this activity takes Kathy and I away from the running of the day-to-day operations of our ten programs.

We also have to face the formidable task of finding new donors. As life goes on, donors reduce their contributions or die off leaving a drop in our donations. All the while our everyday costs, like electricity, taxes, gas, and just about everything else go up. I would ask that you once again look into becoming a sustainer. We are only asking for $5.00 per month. It is secure, easy to set up, and carefree. All you need to do is to go to our webpage and click on sustainer, or on the appeal section on the last page of our newsletter and you are in.

We are already collecting items for the Flea market which will be starting, Saturday, May 2, 2020 and, yes, we are looking for volunteers to help set up, starting at 6:00 A.M. for 2 hours and closing down, starting at 1:30 P.M., for 2 hours every week until September 26, 2020. 

Finally, I can’t let you go without reminding you of our Lenten fund raiser, the Fast of Hermas! Get ready to make your pledge. You really did a great job last year with over $1,800 in pledges.

Theology on Demand

Working as the LittleStore manager has been a great opportunity for me. Not only have I been able to get practical experience (and sharpen my skills working on the website and newsletter), but I have also had daily contact with a great pool of volunteers and employees here at 242 Canterbury Street. 

It has also worked wonders for my prayer life. We are blessed to have a chapel upstairs, and every week we all have the opportunity to get together for a prayer meeting. This weekly prayer meeting (Tuesdays at noon, and open to all)  is an excellent way for us all to take a break from the work week, and remind ourselves what we are working and volunteering for. I often wind up leaving the prayer meeting feeling invigorated and ready to tackle the week’s remaining challenges.

The Apostolate Cross

Having noticed how much I enjoyed the weekly prayer meetings, I have begun to spend as much time as possible in environments that remind me of them. There is, of course, Sunday Mass, but there are also many other opportunities that present themselves if you’re willing to keep an eye out for them. For instance, I have started attending a monthly catholic young adults group here in Worcester. 

This monthly group is always an enjoyable occasion, and they offer several different events making it very easy to fit one or multiple in your schedule. The events I have attended recently took place at a small bar near St. John’s church in downtown Worcester. There is often an excellent talk on theology, and every once in a while, trivia night! As much as I enjoy trivia (and I do), it is the talks that keep me coming back every month for more.

Last month, I had the great privilege of hearing a talk on the Catholic theology surrounding the Virgin Mary, the very inspiration of our ministry at 242 Canterbury Street. I really wish I could share that talk with all of you, it has been with me every day since. The speaker was moving, engaging, and best of all quoted from the bible next to him the entire evening. He spoke forcefully, with clarity, on the role that the Virgin Mary plays in our lives as Catholics.

For me, time seemed to slip away as I was immersed in the theology and faith on display. The talk wound its way through the Bible, from Genesis to the New Testament, and it seems every book in the Bible had something to say on the special relationship between Our Lady and the Lord. For me, one of the most touching examples was when the angel Gabriel appeared before the Virgin Mary with the greeting, “Hail, full of grace.” It is a greeting distinct from almost every other time an angel speaks with a person in the Bible, and I am glad the speaker touched on it.

From the fall in the garden of Eden all the way to Calvary, the speaker had something profound to tell us about the Virgin Mary. It strengthened a particularly difficult part of my faith, the reverence with which we hold the Virgin Mary and saints. Anyone who has discussed theology with non-catholic friends (as I have many times!) can tell you that this is a thorny issue. However, after a night of direct bible readings and inspiring speech, I feel well-equipped and firm in my beliefs. 

The talk left me not only feeling energized about my faith, but wanting for more. After combing the internet, I discovered a series of talks by the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Many of these centered on the Virgin Mary, and if you are unfamiliar with the late archbishop’s work, I heavily encourage you to gather together some favorite snacks and settle in to hear him speak for a while. If you are looking for an easy way to access his material, I was able to find a great amount of it on youtube.

Listening to a variety of talented speakers, for me at least, is an unmatched way to feel more invigorated and active in my faith. However you interact with your faith, by volunteering, engagement in weekly Mass, or solitary prayer, I hope you find some time this week for yourself and your faith!

The Director’s Chair

Christmas is upon us!!  Once again the door went up at 5:00 A.M. on October 5, 2019 and there were four mothers waiting to sign up their children for Christmas gifts. And so it begins! We will be taking names every Saturday until the first Saturday of December. We are also taking names for five Sundays starting October 13, 2019.  Needless to say, we need your help getting this work done.

You should all have received your invitation to our 40th Anniversary Celebration on October 26, 2019. We hope you have a chance to join us for a very busy day stating with Mass, then lunch, a few speakers and a bunch of awards and a coffee and a mingling session to close the day.

We are constantly updating our web page. Jeff has added a number of new pages concerning volunteer opportunities. Take a look, just go to our web site and click on the Careers button. There you will see all of the current opportunities that we need to fill so that this ministry to “the least, the last, and the left out” can continue to grow. If you yourself cannot help us, maybe you know someone who might be able to fill a position because they are retired or have some extra energy and have the heart for this kind of work. Think about it, who knows who may pop into your mind!

Once again, I want to tell you about our volunteers from Young Neighbors in Action. First of all, each of these groups did a fantastic job at whatever tasks we asked them to do. Here are some of the tasks they took on:  bottles and cans redemption, cut brush along our fence line, found someone living under the bridge which abuts our property, mowed the lawn, swept the parking lot, took turns working the counter in the store, hung clothing, and sorted incoming boxes stored in the shed. Yup, they were busy as bees!!!

We got ready for Christmas by clearing everything out of the shed and putting it into basement storage for the winter so we can start setting up the shed to receive all those family bags of toys. There will be some 1,200 bags and they take up every square inch of space in the shed. This sounds so simple, but let me assure you that it took us four hours with ten young men to get the job done. In fact, we still have a lot of yard sale stuff to hang on for next year’s flea market.