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“Have a Good Day!”


St_Ann_Soup_Kitchen“Have a good day,” “Have a good day,” echoed throughout the hall as each guest was handed a dinner tray by a bright eyed happy little girl of about ten years of age. It was a holiday, and schools were closed. Tina was planning to go to the soup kitchen at St. Ann’s Church in Newark, New Jersey, to volunteer; since the kids were off, she asked if they’d like to join her. In the car on the way to St. Ann’s she talked with them about what it would be like, what they might see and experience, and how they could do something nice for some very vulnerable people.
 
The four girls jumped right in. They loved donning their matching aprons, hats, and gloves. They deliberated over who would collect tickets and who would dish out the food, pour drinks, and serve trays. Their excitement, engaging smiles, and chorus of “Have a good day” greeted each guest that came to the window for a dinner tray.
 

soup_kitchen_instructions

Getting instructions from the chief chef, John.


Many of the guests smiled back, thanked the girls, and bantered with them.
 
Others, in their own worlds, anxious, and distracted, said nothing. When all had been served, these four young girls fixed their own plates and joined the guests for dinner.
 
As I observed this scene, I noticed how once in a while one of the girls would check something out with Mom who was patient with their questions and affirming with her answers.
 
I also saw how many guests responded gratefully to their youth and their upbeat attitudes.
 
Most of all I saw how happy these young people were to be of service though unaware of what a profound difference they were making in the lives of the guests as well as those of us who were volunteering with them.
 
Pope Francis often speaks about the critical need in the Church to form missionary disciples who will reach out to others with the Good News and let them know that they are loved by God and by others. Forming missionary disciples might sound like a daunting task. This Mom, Tina, was doing it, preparing her children to be aware of the needs of the poor and vulnerable and, with them, doing something about it.
 
I commented to the Mom as she and the girls prepared to leave the soup kitchen that the conversation in the car on the way home would be priceless. She agreed and added that it would be a conversation for beyond the car ride.
 
Who knows how this day off from school spent helping others and learning a little about the poor among us will impact and form these little disciples?
 
Sister Honora is the Assistant Director and Director of Development at RENEW and a Dominican Sister of Amityville, NY.

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