The following is taken from the Summer 2020 issue of Vision.
Even in the best of times, the Sisters of Charity ministries face numerous challenges. Helping the homeless, those who are hungry, the many who suffer from mental health difficulties or a myriad of life’s other problems has always been the mission of Charity. In the face of COVID-19, that challenge has grown exponentially.
In partnership with the Franciscan Friars’ St. Francis Breadline on West 31 Street, Manhattan, Life Experience and Faith Sharing Associates (LEFSA) continues to serve those living on the streets by distributing sandwiches and drinks while maintaining safe distancing. They deliver prayer booklets to the shelters to assure residents that they are not forgotten. The LEFSA team has reached out to community members who have recently obtained housing to offer prayer and counseling and to ensure that they have food and other necessities while they are confined to their apartments.
LEFSA team member Pastor Carl Petrus leads a daily prayer service via teleconference at noon to keep the community and the team connected. Pastor Carl is also working on a plan to help team members relate to the homeless experience during the pandemic, so they are better prepared to help others rebuild their lives.
Team members have stayed connected to provide care and service to the community, as well as supporting each other. They hold a safe-distanced meeting once a week to share new information about the shelters, the street ministry and the formerly homeless community. The team feels blessed that they can continue this great ministry.
Adjusting to meet the changing situation, the Elizabeth Seton Women’s Center continues its outreach and activities. In a true spirit of collaboration, members have provided homemade baked items and sandwiches to the LEFSA office for distribution in their street ministry.
Director Ellen Mihovics started a Ben Franklin Circle for St. Raymond Academy for Girls in the Bronx. The Ben Franklin Circle was developed by the 92nd Street YMCA in Manhattan to enable young people to gather and discuss in depth the virtues that Ben Franklin emphasized, and how to incorporate them into their lives and serve their communities better.
The Women’s Center routinely works with Midnight Run Inc. of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., in distributing food and supplies to those in need in Manhattan. Despite the difficulties, Ellen recently collected toiletries, new tee shirts, and monetary donations from members and delivered them to Midnight Run.
Recognizing the greater need created by the pandemic, the LEFSA team and Women’s Center members enthusiastically await the physical reopening of their ministries. In the timeless tradition of founder Elizabeth Seton and the Sisters of Charity, they Hazard, Yet Forward.
By Anne Marie Gardiner