For the fifth straight summer, members of the Viatorian Community tended a garden on the Province Center grounds — with the sole purpose of donating its produce to the local food pantry for hungry families.
Its ministry took on even more importance during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, in which he encourages all Catholics to experience the incredible mercy of God by performing extraordinary acts of love.
As in the past, these fresh vegetables were donated to nearby Wheeling Township Food Pantry, which feeds more than 400 families per month who are coming from throughout Chicago’s Northwest suburbs.
This summer’s harvest reached more than 1,000 pounds. Consequently, over the last three years alone, Viatorians have donated two tons of fresh produce, or more than 4,000 pounds of vegetables.
Food pantry officials think of them as a farm to table type donation, with freshly picked tomatoes, squash, zucchini, peppers and eggplant going right into the food pantry, for clients to choose from during their visits, as they might in a grocery store.
Viatorian Archivist Joan Sweeney also has continued with her tradition of donating hand-tied, cut flowers, arranged in mason jars. She describes these simple bouquets as “food for the soul.”
The garden ministry was started in 2012 by Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, but last year Viatorian Associate John Dussman took it over. In all, more than a dozen gardeners tend the 14 raised plots in the garden. They include Viatorian associates as well as Province Center staff members and Saint Viator High School families.
They all share in the Viatorian mission, of embracing “those who are accounted of little importance by some.”