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!