One of the great and maybe hidden programs of the Saint Anne parish community is the Night Ministry program. For countless years, devoted adults and teens have been feeding economically impoverished Chicago residents on the far Southside, near Lake Michigan. Kim Burns and Francis Connors coordinate the entire program, with Francis making sure soup and food is provided by parishioners and Kim Burns insuring there are drivers and students to make the trek and serve the food. Of course, there are countless families who volunteer time, talent and treasure to provide the food.
Nine times a year, Karen Poglitsch sets out four large empty insulated containers that adults pick up and return on the night of the outing, filled with thick, hot and nourishing soup. Other families make hundreds, yes, hundreds of sandwiches, baked goods, purchase fresh fruit and other food items. All this is packed into our own van and 6-8 students and two adults drive the 50 mile one-way trip in the middle of Chicago rush hour traffic to their destination. On some nights it has taken 2 hours for the ride.
Once there, they rendezvous with the night ministry van, a large vehicle that provides food and medical care for those in need. They set up tables on the street, often on frigid cold nights, and serve up the food. They return home, clean out the containers and call it a night at about 9:30 p.m. The teens then take on a few hours of homework and head off to school the next day. They and the adults are truly devoted and to be congratulated for living out the Gospel in such a sacrificial way.
Below is a summation of this past year’s Night Ministry. It is written by Tom Kurcab, a pillar of the Saint Anne youth community, who has driven most of the miles on these trips, along with Fred Wrobleski (other adults have volunteered to drive as well—these two are the regulars). Both of them have been tireless in their 50+mile treks. He wrote this email to the leaders of Night Ministry after returning from his final trip of the year yesterday, April 17.
Hello to all.
Some thought on the Night Ministry Mission as we wrap up season 2018-19.
First the numbers:
9 trips to South shore 900+ miles traveled
90+ gallons of soup 1350+ sandwiches
1000+ fresh fruit 2000+ chips
2000+ cookies 2000+ candy
Now the things that aren’t counted:
First, the teenagers and how inspiring they are. In their ever busy lives, these special teens find a way to prioritize what is important in their lives and actually live out their faith to help those in need. They not only inspire us who work closely with them but also the workers of the Night Ministry organization and even the many people who drive by or are stuck in traffic as they watch the teens in action.
Next, the smiles of those in need. How difficult and humbling it must be to ask for help and wait in line, in public, for food to eat. Yet, we are greeted with a smile and a thank you. Lesson learned for me.
A sense of community is growing around the location where we spend a few hours a month. Especially when the weather is pleasant as it was yesterday. It wasn’t a grab and go atmosphere when the hawk is blowing but more like a time to rest from the struggles of life and to break some bread with fellow travelers.
Finally, the lessons that we learn when we venture out from wherever makes us all grow closer to God.
Thank you for all the soup makers, sandwich makers , snack providers and everyone else who has added their special ingredient to this recipe of life.
Peace & love,
I will add my and Karen Poglitsch’s gratitude as well, to all who have made this project of love happen and who have come to realize, as found in St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25 “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do unto me.” Deo Gratias