Sacred Heart parish in Glendale set the tone of the penitential season by remembering the poor through almsgiving and personal sacrifice at a special Lenten Soup Supper.
The parish gathered for the simple meal after the 5 p.m. Saturday Mass, March 16. The proceeds from the entrance tickets purchased in advance all went to a cause close to the parish’s heart: the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Sister Elisabeth Anne, L.S.P., has been visiting the parish for the past 30 years as the designated beggar for her congregation. This means that for many years, Sister Elisabeth, who herself is now elderly, would visit fish markets and ask for donations of fish. Fish, the sister explained, is a favorite of the residents at Queen of Peace Residence, Queens Village, where she ministers, in part because it is easy to chew.
The fish vendors would give the sister much of what she needed as a donation, the rest she bought at a discounted price, with money she had collected.
Each weekend, Sister Elisabeth Anne would visit a different parish to ask for donations at the end of each Mass. It is in this capacity that she had visited Sacred Heart for so many years.
Therefore it was natural for the Ladies Guild, which organized the Soup Supper event, to want to help the Little Sisters of the Poor, said Doris Calise, co-founder of the group.
The Sacred Heart Ladies Guild formed last year and meet once a week at a social event they organize for each other. They also organize events for the parish.
The group has learned about the tradition of the Lenten Soup Supper and decided they wanted to organize one for their parish, after consulting with the pastor, Father Fred Marano, who was all for the idea. Virginia Porth, the other co-founder of the group, said it was important for the ladies to plan out all the details of the supper to create a sense of lenten fasting. The table cloths were purple and the centerpieces were dedicated to the thorn crown placed on the Saviour’s head, among other physical reminders.
At first Calise thought they would get about 20 people to attend. But then Father Marano explained the Lenten schedule during his announcements at the Mass and included that Lenten Soup Supper. He explained to the parishioners that not only will it benefit among the poorest in society, but that it would also greatly benefit those who attended in their journey towards the Resurrection.
Father Marano explained at the beginning of the event that the simple meal reflected how many people around the world eat on a daily basis, not quite satisfying their hunger and not indulging in delicacies such as sweets or desserts.
He also explained that before the attendees would be invited to go in line for their soup, there would be a time of silence while a spiritual reflection would be read.
The pastor chose a passage written by St. Mother Teresa in which the saint challenged the reader to expand their understanding of poverty. The passage asked the reader to think about the people in one’s own home: does one’s husband, wife, children or parent suffer, not from a lack of food or clothing, but from a lack of love, that should come from those closest to them?
Sister Mary Alka, L.S.P., who usually works as a nurse in the infirmary at the Queen of Peace residence, accompanied Sister Elisabeth for the Soup Supper.
She said she was delighted that the parish organized the event not only because it would benefit the people she serves, but also because it benefits the people of the parish who could experience a meal in a more spiritual fashion.
Angela Locascio, a parishioner for 22 years who assists the parish in various capacities, came up to the sisters during the Soup Supper to personally thank them for their ministry and their witness.
“What they do is needed,” she said. “They are the female voice of Christ. He is our nurturer.”
She explained that in following the example of the Blessed Mother, the sisters take care of the Body of Christ, His Church.
Locascio said she is eternally grateful for the priests and consecrated of the church for their spiritual care and guidance, especially during times of spiritual emergencies.
During the Soup Supper, Father Morano presented the Little Sisters of the Poor with a check for $700.