Text and photos by Ericka McCabe. Video by Ron Riegler.
For this installment of our Thanksgiving feature, “Food, Family, Faith,” AmericanCatholic.org traveled just around the corner to Our Daily Bread
, a soup kitchen here in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood.
We are greeted by Kathy Ray, who has been Director of Operations at Our Daily Bread for eight years. She gives us a tour of the facilities, and fills us in on the history and mission of Our Daily Bread.
Our Daily Bread has been in operation in this neighborhood for over 25 years. They serve a meal from 9:45—11:45 daily, Monday through Friday, followed by a snack from 1:00—2:00 Monday through Thursday. They are the highest volume soup kitchen in Greater Cincinnati, serving an average of 450 meals per day. They recently broke their record by serving 547 meals in just under two hours. All the food that Our Daily Bread serves comes from donations. Each meal service begins with a prayer for kitchen staff and volunteers, usually a short reflection followed by the Our Father.
Our Daily Bread is not just a place to have a meal. Many of their clients have some sort of mental illness. Our Daily Bread helps these people by providing activities two days a week, as well as access to social services, legal aid, job help, clothing, computers, and more. There is a women’s support group that meets regularly and they also distribute groceries.
Just as important as all those services? The sense of community that Our Daily Bread provides for its guests. Every guest is greeted with a friendly hello and a smile. All of the guests we spoke with listed a sense of family, welcome, and community as why they keep coming back. This is no accident—Kathy says that she strives to make all the guests feel welcomed. Our Daily Bread works at creating a homey feel, with food served on real china with silverware, and whenever donations provide, fresh flowers on the tables. Our Daily Bread volunteers bus the tables for guests.
One of the bussers on the day ACO visits is Fr. Hilarion Kistner, O.F.M. Fr. Hilarion has volunteered at Our Daily Bread weekly for eight years.
Fr. Hilarion is St. Anthony Messenger Press’s resident Scripture expert, and editor of Sunday Homily Helps.
He has been a friar for 63 years.
He knew early in life that he was called to the priesthood, but it was only later that he realized he was called to be a Franciscan friar. While in the seminary he, “fell in love with St. Francis, and…wanted to be like him.” Which, Father humbly admits, “is hard.”
He began his work at Our Daily Bread in response to his province’s reminder that the friars “are supposed to be people involved with the poor.” This is a key part of the Franciscan charism.
Fr. Hilarion sees his work as “an opportunity to serve Jesus.” In the way of Mother Teresa, he sees “Jesus in disguise in all
people.” Father says, “Every human being contains the glory of God.” Fr. Hilarion “serves God by serving others.”
While we're visiting, we meet several of Our Daily Bread’s guests:
Philip loves being able to access the Internet and is thankful that Our Daily Bread provides this opportunity for him.
Dan tells us that you can be rich in many more ways than money. He says that he is thankful for the opportunity to socialize with friends that Our Daily Bread provides him.
Mary quietly tells us that she is thankful for the food Our Daily Bread provides and the kindness of everyone there.