Being the hands, feet that serve Houston’s needy
May 23, 2017
During Lent, the Loaves and Fishes Ministry at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church at The Woodlands asked parishioners to donate socks and shoes for the homeless who live near the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in downtown Houston and some of the members of the ministry washed the feet of the first 12 guests in line. Photo courtesy of Michael Kelly.
THE WOODLANDS — The Loaves and Fishes Ministry at Sts. Simon and Jude (SSJ) Catholic Church in The Woodlands has begun serving food once a week and buying, preparing, serving and cleaning up one Sunday in the month at a soup kitchen with the same name in downtown Houston.
The ministry at SSJ grew out of a small group called “Homiletic Scripture Study” that meets every week to study the liturgical readings a month ahead of the meeting date. The group studies the weekly readings to find ways to apply those readings to 21st-Century life.
“We have lively discussions, take notes to pass on the homilists to serve as input to their preparation,” said John Baxter, a member and one of the founders of the ministry. “One of the supplementary sources is a publication titled ‘PrayerTime.’ It covers thoughts about the Gospel, opportunities to share and challenges to put the readings into practical ways to ‘live out’ the Gospel message.”
One week the group was challenged to visit a soup kitchen. They searched and found Loaves and Fishes on Congress Street across from Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston. The group reached out to other parish groups to join them, and about 16 people showed up, including members of St. Edward Catholic Church.
“We greeted the guests, filled the trays with food, handed those trays to the guests, bused the tables and cleaned up,” Baxter said. “We fed more than 250 lunches and went home tired but feeling that we had accomplished something positive.”
It was then that the group adopted the name of the soup kitchen because “it embodies what we are about,” Baxter said.
The group grows in number each time they serve the guests. Most of the time they arrive in time to serve the food which has already been prepared for the guests.
One Sunday the group arrived in time to prepare the ingredients they had brought. The soup kitchen had provided a shopping list and a volunteer paid for the ingredients purchased out of her own resources. They have been back every month ever since.
Baxter said one of the first things SSJ’s Pastor Pat Garrett shared with the group was a slogan that challenged them to ask, “What else can we do?”
“We have taken this to heart,” Baxter said. “We have formed a ministry to serve needy souls.”
This past winter the group collected blankets to distribute to the guests of the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen, and jackets for youth being held in detention centers.
“Members of our group have made several trips with clothes to give to those who need them,” Baxter said.
During Lent, the ministry asked SSJ parishioners to donate socks and shoes for the homeless who live near the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen.
“Through the generosity of the parishioners of SSJ we were able to give away 170 pairs of shoes and 1,000 pairs of socks on Holy Saturday,” Baxter said. “Before we gave away those shoes and socks, some of us washed the feet of the first 12 guests in line. We have many more shoes and socks left over, which we plan to donate to Compassion United of Conroe. We also collected $1,000-plus to purchase larger size shoes and socks to serve the guests whose feet were larger than those donated.”
Baxter said every time the group meets new people join. More than 55 people participated in the shoe and sock project.
“St. Edward’s parishioners join us every time we travel down to the soup kitchen,” Baxter said. “It is a joy to see this ministry grow, with new folks joining us in all of our efforts.”