About five years ago in Montreal, a little seed was planted by Fr. Joachim Yoon, ofm, with the Korean Young Adult Group that first started this activity of ”sharing love with the homeless”. Today we see how this seed has sprouted and continues to grow, here, in our parish, St. Francis of Assisi (Park Extension, Montréal) through the participation and involvement of our generous benefactors and our dedicated volunteers.
The Franciscan Young Adult and Youth Group continues to organize the event of “sharing love with the homeless” every month.
The month of December is a special month. The Franciscan Young Adult and Youth Group shared the spirit of Christmas by organizing Christmas meals and gifts for the homeless people. Hot meals of BBQ chicken, potatoes and carrots, as well as Christmas gifts of warm socks, gloves, scarves, chocolates, chips, juice and tangerines were offered to the homeless of downtown Montreal. A hot cup of coffee was also offered, a much-appreciated treat on a cold winter day.
As usual at 9:00 AM about 20 volunteers of 12 different nationalities gathered in the hall of St. Francis of Assisi Church to start working on different tasks. The presence of Order of Friars Minor brothers and Franciscan Missionaries of Mary sisters was well appreciated.
Some worked in the kitchen helping to prepare potatoes and carrots. We are grateful to one family who volunteered to prepare BBQ chicken for all the meals. In the church hall, the other volunteers worked on filling the Christmas gift bags. We worked together joyfully to prepare what was needed for our mission.
After all the preparation was finished, the volunteers shared a community meal of hot noodle soup. « As we prepared the meals, I felt that we were a community of missionary disciples who were of “one heart and mind”, working together for the same mission, to manifest God’s love to our broken world. » Then, the volunteers were divided into three groups and we were now ready to go out. One group started at Atwater metro station, the second group at Berri UQAM station and the last group at Bonaventure station.
Each group distributed Christmas meals and gifts with love and joy. A conversation takes place as we distribute the meals. “It is not only about giving food but meeting each one, greeting and talking to them.” After all the meals were distributed, we returned to the parish hall to share our experiences and what touched us. « One homeless person only wanted the meal and not the gift. Yet, his friend encouraged him to take the gift. He did accept the gift saying: I will give it to my daughter. »
We were touched by the compassion and pity that one homeless person had for another homeless woman, who was sitting on the other side of the road. He shared with us her story: ”Last winter due to freezing temperatures, her hands froze. The doctors had no choice but to amputate both her hands. Please go and see her. She is sitting over there. I am so grateful I still have my hands and feet. » He realized how important our hands are and how often we take them for granted. We need our hands to do everything. « I am still shaken by this woman who had no hands. »
At Atwater metro station there were many Inuit people. A Sister knows a little Inuktitut and asked them their names and how they are doing. She sat with them and talked to them. One woman had her neck exposed, and as one volunteer covered her neck with a scarf, she began to cry. It was very touching. « We are not only sharing food, but our presence and our love. » We all held our hands together saying the ”Our Father” in Inuktitut. There were many tears as the prayers were being recited. It was a beautiful moment for they were not tears of sadness, but tears of happiness.
Many people worked behind the scenes so that this activity of ”sharing love with the homeless” could be realized. We are very grateful to the benefactors and volunteers.
Even the small actions are very meaningful.
Sister Marianna Jung, FMM