I love the month of March — spring arrives, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and those of us who are sports fans revel in the excitement of college basketball and March Madness!
Last year at this time, March Madness was cancelled, theatres went dark, and the St. Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled. Churches closed, people were furloughed and laid off from work, and we began to shelter in place at home, distanced from one another. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization determined COVID-19 to be a global pandemic and our lives as we knew them drastically changed.
As I reflect on the enormous challenges of the past twelve months, I asked myself, “what have we accomplished in this upside down year?” At Bread & Life the answer is clear — we tripled the amount of people we feed, secured more food and served more meals than ever before, and expanded our reach into new communities across the city with over 20 new community partnerships.
The one thing we miss most is welcoming guests into our building, providing a space for community and a way to engage with those we serve on a more personal level. Those interactions are invaluable. Our hope is that we can figure out a way to make this enriching experience happen again.
During March we also celebrated National Catholic Sisters week, a time when the Catholic Church recognizes the many ways religious sisters contribute to the life of the church. This year we posed a challenge to the many congregations of women in Brooklyn and Queens and asked them to consider supporting our Lenten Appeal, and to help raise awareness about hunger in our region. Within just a few days sisters from more than 12 communities responded to our request. Collectively we hit our target — their support will sponsor our grab-and-go meals through the end of June. A big thank you to Sr. Maureen McGowan from the LCWR Region 2 team for helping us get the word out, and to all of the sisters and donors who helped support this challenge. With just a few days left in Lent, we are grateful to everyone who supported this appeal and know there is still time left to help us exceed our goal.
In closing, there is an old Irish saying, “may the kindness you spread keep returning to you.” All of us at Bread & Life send our best wishes to our friends and supporters. Here’s to a better year!
Sr. Caroline Tweedy, RSM