Dear Brothers of The St. Alfio Society,
May the Lord give you His Peace!
I want to extend my warmest greetings to all of you on this Thanksgiving Day. I truly cherish this beautiful custom that we celebrate every year to give thanks to God for our nation’s existence. Due to the tremendous effort of many of you, in particular Joe Mariano (who had to go to Market Basket to buy turkeys two-by-two!), Mike Fusco, Jimmy Piemonte, Chuck Fucca, Jimmy Sambataro (and children Anthony Mariano and Ava LaSpina) we have had yet another successful Thanksgiving food give away.
And since everything we do as a Society is a labor of love from us all, below are just two short stories of the fruits of this past Sunday as we passed out the food to families in need.
Jessenia has lived here in Lawrence for many years and is originally from the Dominican Republic. She founded and currently runs a non-profit organization called “Fundación Vida” (Life Foundation) that raises money to buy food, clothes, and other supplies for needy children in the Dominican Republic.
I can honestly say it was a joy to work with her this past Sunday, as we loaded up her van with box after box. I had to tell her to stop because she was just so overjoyed to receive the food. “You’re going to smash the pies!” were the kind words and wise counsel of a Society member to Jessenia after box number eighteen was stuffed into her small van! Jessenia and I dropped off the food to the homes of numerous families that she works with and knows personally.
It reminded me of what our grandparents and great-grandparents would have done as Italian immigrants trying to assimilate to American customs, yet unable to provide a dignified Thanksgiving meal for themselves due to work and daily demands. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said that she was more impressed not so much that the poor often give the little that they have away, but that they know their neighbors personally and are attentive to their needs.
As we returned to the St. Alfio Society building Jessenia said to me as she saw the statues of the Three Saints, “¡Mira Padre, Los Tres Santos! Les pidamos su intercesión y demos gracias a Dios por esta hermosa oportunidad para ayudar a los pobres hoy.” (“Look Father, The Three Saints! Let’s pray to them for their blessing and give thanks to God for this wonderful opportunity today to help those in need”).
I couldn’t have said it better myself…
Lastly, this photo is of Ana, originally from Ecuador.
I have known Ana for quite some time now but it was not until I dropped off the food at her apartment that she told me the following story:
Ana immigrated here to Lawrence many years ago and then moved to New Orleans. After hurricane Katrina she moved back to Lawrence in 2005, looking for shelter. One Friday afternoon, she entered the Church of Holy Rosary, remembering that it was open due to adoration, and she found herself before the statue of the Three Saints. She knelt and prayed desperately that St. Alfio, St. Filadelfo and St. Cirino intercede for her to find housing. At that very instant, she heard a voice from within her that told her to look outside!
She left the Church and saw the St. Alfio’s Villa Apartments across the street on Common Street and decided to enter. As she walked in, she immediately remembered that two years before she had put in an application for housing but never needed to follow up. She went directly to the secretary who told her that her application was still being processed and that in only two months she would have a room. That December, Ana moved into the Villa where she currently lives. She beams with joy when telling this story and is so grateful to God and to the Saints for this wonderful miracle in her life.
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity my brothers.
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
Fr. Francis Godkin, FPO