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Thanksgiving is every season for Christians. In fact, the word "eucharist" comes from the Greek word for “thanksgiving.” In these weeks leading to the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, enjoy our special feature on some Thanksgiving themes. In this installment, we share a visit to organization that provides meals and other services and opportunities to those in need.

Special Features
Give Us This Day
Our Daily Bread

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.



We meet Our Daily Bread employee and volunteer Jeffrey, a student at the College of Mount St. Joseph. Jeffrey works in ODB’s computer lab, helping guests look for jobs, and access information via the Web. Jeffrey gets as much as he gives at Our Daily Bread.





Ask any volunteer, and you will hear the same—the experience of helping others is as transformative for the giver as the receiver. And as Christians, it is what we are called to do: to be Jesus’ hands on earth. This call comes not just at the holidays; it is perpetual. Need knows no season.

Kathy reminds us that Our Daily Bread and places like it need our help 365 days a year. When we are on the beach in June, people are hungry. When we are taking down our Christmas decorations in January, someone needs a warm place to sleep. Remember that the next time you pray, “Give us this day our daily bread….”




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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.


 
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