Patrick McPartland/Staff Photographer - Immaculate Conception students Bella Panzica and Rosalie Martin have helped to collect food for the Feed his Flock food drive.
The Catholic Education Division of the Diocese of Buffalo looked to Bishop Edward U. Kmiec’s motto of “Charity and Service” to decide how to honor him. In recognition of his golden jubilee of priesthood, young people of the diocese, from kindergarten to high school, will participate in a diocesanwide food drive labeled “Feed His Flock.”
In the past, the youth have been involved in major celebrations by offering a spiritual bouquet of prayers to a specified recipient.
“We felt we wanted to do something different for Bishop Kmiec,” said Kathryn M. Goller, director of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “When we thought of the fact that his particular episcopal motto is ‘Charity and Service,’ we wanted to do something that really reflected and gave honor and recognition to that motto because it says so much of who Bishop Kmiec is.”
They are asking every parish and school to hold a non-perishable food drive on the bishop’s behalf. Each parish will distribute the “Feed His Flock” collections throughout their individual community.
“People seem really enthusiastic about it, because it is something a little bit different,” added Mary Beth Coates, director of the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation. “It’s something that they might have been doing anyway or something that they can easily incorporate into their schedule. We’re pushing into a traditional time of year when often places are having food drives and why not do something in celebration of the bishop’s ministry, his commitment to charity and service, ask all of our schools and religious ed programs to host a food drive or collect food in some capacity, donate it to their local pantry?”
The bishop was notified on his Oct. 30 jubilee celebration that the collection distributed over 27,000 non-perishable food items throughout the eight counties of Western New York and collected $3,500 for local pantries.
The collection comes at a busy time for St. James Parish in Jamestown. This will be their third collection this fall.
“We just had a three-week food drive for the local rescue mission, and they were just beginning the full-parish food drive for Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. So we snuck this one in the middle. This month there’s a food drive going on every weekend,” said Joanne Zdrojewski, religious education coordinator.
The religious education students were asked to bring in holiday-related foods such as stuffing, cranberries and vegetables, for inclusion in holiday baskets. The collected food items will go to the parish outreach office, which will distribute them to residents in need during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. St. James outreach office has a part-time staff, that work with the Children’s Love Fund, a non-profit organization that helps Chautauqua County families who have children with long-term illnesses, and Love Inc. of Southern Chautauqua County, which addresses the needs of food, clothing and shelter. The parish is also known for their annual Angel Tree collection at Christmastime. The parish had to close their food pantry, but still have some food on hand for calls from people in need.
“(Feed His Flock) was a good way to participate in a diocesanwide effort and honor the bishop,” said Zdrojewski. “Many of our kids in the elementary grades need to be reminded that they have a bishop and what his name is, who he is, especially because we live so far away from Buffalo. Many of them have never seen him, so it gives them a sense of being part of the larger Church, and it gives the families a chance to talk about helping others.”
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