Ribbon-Cutting Marks Official Launch of Soup Kitchen

UTICA, NY, March 17, 2008 -- A ribbon-cutting on Monday, March 17, marked the grand opening of Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen, a soup kitchen serving the poor and homeless out of St. Joseph-St. Patrick Parish Center at Columbia and Varick streets.

 The soup kitchen is named after Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, who grew up in West Utica and went on to devote the last 30 years of her life to the lepers of Hawaii’s Molokai.

The all-volunteer operation serves soup and sandwiches from 11:30 to 12:30 Monday through Friday, and a bag lunch on Saturday. On Sunday the parish offers a coffee hour following the 10:30 Mass. A week-long soft opening preceded the grand opening to allow the training of scores of volunteers.

A coordinating group, led by Deacon Gilbert Nadeau, is the organizing force behind the soup kitchen. The group includes parishioners, friends of the parish, and members of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Officiating at the ribbon-cutting were Deacon Gil Nadeau, Parish Administrator Fr. Richard Dellos, Oneida County Legislator Rose Ann Convertino, Utica Urban and Economic Development Commissioner Robert Sullivan, and Linda Croghan and Michael Arthur from State Senator Joseph Griffo’s office.

“There is a need in West Utica,” Deacon Gil said. “Hundreds of families, including the working poor and homeless, visit our parish campus weekly for assistance from the food pantry and clothing outlet at the Thea Bowman House. We constantly have people knocking on our rectory door asking for food and assistance.”

He added that, “while there are other wonderful facilities that offer this service, they are a distance away from the needy in our neighborhood who have no transportation.”

He appealed to churches of all denominations to spread the word on the need for supplies, and for volunteers willing to devote one day a month.

“We anticipate this ministry will develop into an interdenominational and cooperative endeavor,” Deacon Gil said, adding:

“Jesus asks all of us to ‘feed my sheep’. Perhaps if we help feed our brother’s and sister’s bodily needs, the Spirit working through us, will feed their spiritual needs.”