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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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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.


 
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