St. Viator Parish is a hub of activity in the Irving Park neighborhood of Chicago, and not just for its spiritual offerings. Viatorians at the parish reach out to serve the physical needs of its residents as part of its holistic mission of raising up communities of faith.
Nowhere is that more evident than during the week leading up to Thanksgiving.
Their work started on Saturday, when Viatorian Pre-Associates Ivy Vera and Susana Tellez led an assembly line of sorts, as volunteers from the parish’s youth ministry helped fill nearly 100 bags of food items for local families.
“This was started by the Family Ministry many years ago and more recently led by the Youth Ministry,” says Ivy, who also serves as the parish secretary. “The food is all donated by school families, and students in our Youth Ministry and those in our middle school needing service hours, helped us pack them.”
Families from the surrounding neighborhood sign up to receive the bags and they began coming to the parish’s St. Joseph Center on Monday to pick them up. Any leftover bags will be given on Wednesday to the nearby Irving Park Food Pantry.
On Thanksgiving Day, members of St. Viator’s Spanish speaking community organize a complete dinner. This year, Pre-Associates Gema and Jose Candido Rangel and Enrique Valdovinos are very involved.
The dinner is held in the parish’s Rev. Edward V. Cardinal, CSV, Recreation Center, and is open to anyone, especially to those who would be alone that day.
The dinner has been offered for several years, and Fr. Moses Mesh, CSV, assistant pastor and Fr. Charles Bolser, CSV, pastor emeritus, always attend to bless the food.
“I was very happy to learn about this Thanksgiving dinner being prepared and served by the Spanish Charismatic group,” says Fr. Patrick Render, CSV, new pastor of St. Viator. “I am told that they have served nearly 400 – 500 people in the past. It is a wonderful gesture of hospitality.”