Christmas Appeal helps ministries at Rochester parish

ROCHESTER — An annual Christmas brunch last December served 100 people at St. Martin’s Place, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph that provides meals throughout the year for city residents in need.

"Our numbers have gone up so it will probably be more (means being served)," Sister Joan Marshall said of this year’s brunch.

A $400 Hunger Relief grant helped defray the cost of the brunch last year, she added, and the ministry applied for the same grant this year. Volunteers also provide meal preparation and service for the brunch at the ministry’s Ontario Street location in the hall of the former Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Sister Marshall said.

The Hunger Relief grants provided to St. Martin’s and various ministries of Our Lady of the Americas Parish are partially funded through proceeds from the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal. The 40th-annual appeal raises money for the emergency funds of various Catholic Charities offices and other affiliated agencies throughout the diocese.

Matthew’s Closet, a clothing ministry located in the former St. Francis Xavier/Holy Redeemer Church school building on Bay Street, has used its $550 grant this year to purchase gloves and Christmas gifts for children, said Bea Robinson, one of the ministry’s codirectors.

Sister of Mercy Julia Norton said that the food cupboard that was formerly located at Mt. Carmel is now housed in the former Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier school building that is now Our Lady of the Americas’ ministry center. She said that she uses the $600 grant she receives for the food cupboard for more than just food.

Last year, she said that she helped a woman pay her rent. She also paid to restore power for a family whose utilities were shut off, she added. Sister Norton said that she will likely set aside some of this year’s grant money in case these and other emergencies — such as the need to help people buy medicine — come up.

Sister Norton said that she has begun preparing Christmas baskets in the old Mt. Carmel furniture room and that families also have been stopping by the food cupboard at the ministry center. They pick out their own food items — much of which is provided by FoodLink and other suburban parishes — for Christmas dinner, and she also gives them a ham or turkey.

"If I run out of food, I give them vouchers for Tops or Wegmans," she said.

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