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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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Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows: Born in Italy into a large family and baptized Francis, he lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.
<p>Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.
</p><p>His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old.
</p><p>Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920.</p> American Catholic Blog Life is not always happy, but our connections to others can create a simple and grace-filled quiet celebration of our own and others’ lives. These others are the presence of Christ in our lives.





 
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