Joy in the morning: An Easter message from Franciscan Charities

“It is in giving that we receive.” Those are the words that adorn the Franciscan Charities signature monk gracing our pages.

If ever there was a time that tested those words, it was these past few weeks leading up to Easter.

News of the COVID-19 outbreak trickled out at first, then grew along with the virus to a pandemic. Our soup kitchen flooded – twice – and then the city of Newark identified our location as right in the middle of a “hot zone.” We had to close the dining room, outfit our volunteers in protective gear and pivot to a “meals to go” set up. Our van – loaded with meals and food – got a flat on the way to our Saturday service. Stay at home restrictions grew tighter. And for a fleeting minute, we worried that we’d have to shut down our operation completely.

Under the guidance of our founder, Br. Paul Miller, that was simply not going to happen. People were still hungry, and we made a commitment to feed them. We would honor that commitment.

And everybody stepped up.

Long-time and new donors dug in and helped defray the additional costs incurred in rebooting.

Staff and volunteers faced down one challenge after another and continued to show up, ensuring the delivery of meals and food to those in need while safeguarding the health of all involved.

And our guests kept coming — patient, appreciative and properly socially-distanced.

So to our donors, for your generosity and willingness to jump in at a moment’s notice to make things happen, we thank you.

To our staff and volunteers, for your energy, persistence, and commitment to our mission, we thank you.

And to our guests at the soup kitchen, whose smiles and thankfulness remind us so often that a grateful heart is never depressed, we thank you.

This past week, we asked them to share a few thoughts about the soup kitchen in this time of the pandemic. Here, then, is some wisdom from the streets.

We wish you a joyful and hopeful Easter.