Diocesan News

Meal, Prayer Part of the Daily Fare at St. Matthias

Bishop Neil Tiedemann, Charlie Gruber and parishioners at St. Matthias parish, Ridgewood, prepare to serve a hot lunch to hungry and homeless guests on a recent afternoon. The volunteers prepare lunch and dinner every day, serving 30 to 40 people per meal. Amid snowstorms and freezing temperatures, the team has been doubling its efforts to accommodate as many people as possible.

At St. Matthias parish, Ridgewood, lunch and dinner are served every day to the homeless and others who are in need.

Auxiliary Bishop Neil Tiedemann, C.P., pastor, begins each morning with a blessing of the food and then spends some time with the guests during their meals.

On a recent morning, Bishop Tiedemann gave the blessing in both English and Spanish and then used his bilingual skills to ask if anyone wanted more salad or if everyone was ready for the main course.

The meals are cooked and served by volunteers. St. Matthias normally serves between 30 and 40 people per meal, but on recent days with heavy snow, the staff was prepared to serve as many guests as they could.

“Many people come here for either lunch or dinner to have a hot meal,” said Bishop Tiedemann. “People from all over the neighborhood come, many not even Catholics, but we don’t turn anyone away. This allows them to have a hot meal and be able to take care of themselves. Every little thing matters.

“The staff rotates and takes turns but they are all excellent people looking to help. We provide a place to come and eat, but also some form of shelter to help these people the best way we can.”

Charlie Gruber, a member of the Cursillo Movement, is retired but has been volunteering with this ministry at St. Matthias for the past year.

“It’s nice to give it away,” said Gruber. “Being able to provide these people with a hot meal, some shelter and show some care helps me as much as it helps them. I am retired now so it is nice to give my time to something that can help. In this weather especially, people need a place to go and we are happy to provide.”