Loaves and Fishes Ministry chair “Sees Christ” while Serving others

Father Ted Rothrock (in black) is flanked by St. Elizabeth Seton Loaves and Fishes ministry leaders. Father Rothrock blessed the many bags of donated food. They loaded into the trucks destined for the Merciful Help Center.

Carmel–Susan McIntosh, chair of the Loaves and Fishes ministry at St. Elizabeth Seton parish in Carmel says she “sees Christ in the people” she serves. The St. Elizabeth Seton food outreach ministry recently conducted its Blue Bag food drive.

Loaves and Fishes ministry partners with the Merciful Help Center at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to collect food, restock the pantry, and help clients ‘shop’ at the food pantry located on the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel campus on 146th street in Carmel.

McIntoch said her interest and involvement to serve the poor stemmed from her friendship and work with the late Lucious Newsome, a legendary advocate for the poor in Marion County. Newsome died in 2008.

“People in our parish and in Carmel in general are surprised to learn that there are people who need food support, but there is a need,” said McIntosh. “It is amazing what you learn from the clients when working at the pantry.” McIntosh said it’s their stories that really make you realize how similar we are to those we serve. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the poor. Not all of them are trying to work the system.

McIntosh said some come for food because they had their car broke down, and didn’t have enough money to fix it. This resulted in a lost job because they couldn’t get to work. Some are working two jobs and still can’t make ends meet. One big expense, like a car repair or medical bill, will put them over the edge, and unable to buy food, or could render them homeless.  “I’m a single person myself. One serious illness and I might be homeless, or need to come to the pantry for food,” said McIntosh.

It has been McIntosh’s experience that the clients she’s served have been “so grateful” for the food. “It’s fun to hear all the recipes, plans and the excitement in the clients’ voice about what they are going to cook.” McIntosh recalls one bitter cold day when a client came in for food and it was day there was ground beef available. “One lady said it had been a long time since they had beef and she was going to cook chili for her sons,” said McIntosh.

The Loaves and Fishes ministry, which launched its ministry last year Dec. 2016 with Advent, placed permanent food collection bins at several locations in the church. In addition to collecting food, the ministry team delivers and restocks the Merciful Help Center on Mondays. The team also assists clients in need of food to “shop” at the pantry.

Each family must meet a certain requirement to qualify said McIntosh. Then based on inventory, gets a shopping list for what they can select.  McIntosh said families only can receive food once per month from the Merciful Help food pantry, so that as many families as possible can be served.

McIntosh said discussions about starting a food pantry began in 2013 when the parish was involved in a renovation. Before they launched the ministry, they went to Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis to learn about hunger at an all-day conference. They also went to Grace Community Church, a large non-denominational church in Carmel, to see how they served the poor. “When we approached the Merciful Help Center, at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, we knew it was a no brainer to partner with them.,” said McIntosh. “We knew this was it. No need for us to reinvent the wheel.”

While the Loaves and Fishes ministry collects food year-round in the bins, the ministry holds two major food drives per year–the Blue Bag food drive and the Souper Bowl Sunday food drive.

Steve Baily and Tom Tuleja collect and sort donated food destined for the Merciful Help Center.

Steve Bailey a member of the ministry team said realizing that he can use his gifts from God to help others in need has been the most moving part of the experience. “We get to be Christ-like to others without preaching,” said Bailey. “We have a lot of fun too. It’s a great group of people. Christ wants us to be happy.” Tom Tuleja, who also serves in the ministry, said “It’s all about doing the Corporal Works of Mercy.” Tuleja also said he didn’t realize how many were in need in the community. “I get more out of it than I give.”

Gus Rothrock, a freshman at Carmel High School who has been involved with the Loaves and Fishes ministry said his godmother, Susan McIntosh got him interested in helping out. “It’s been a really fun experience and we know we are helping people.” Trude Rothrock, Gus’ older sister, who is a senior at Carmel High School said, “It’s cool being a part of something where you know your actions are helping someone in need. We have a lot of fun, and we keep coming back.”


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