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Servants filling a community need

From left: Luke Trombetta, Martin Grenchik, Cole Mase, Maximilian Lock, Bishop Timothy Senior, Drew Tanguay, Andrew St. Denis, Jonah Brox, Luke Helbling, the Rev. Christopher Cooke.

As Easter nears, volunteers from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary last week prepped and packed meals at Caring for Friends, 12271 Townsend Road.

Leidy’s donated 3,000 hams, which were made into protein-rich casseroles, including potatoes and edamame [soy beans].

The meals are made for individuals, couples and families of four. They will be distributed through Caring for Friends’ network of 200 community partners in the Philadelphia area.

The eight seminarians were joined by Bishop Timothy Senior, rector of the seminary, and the Rev. Christopher Cooke, Dean of Men for the Theology Seminary.

Vince Schiavone, CEO of Caring for Friends, has welcomed the seminarians since the beginning of the pandemic.

Cooke explained that seminarians – 149 from 15 dioceses, including 70 from Philadelphia, representing five congregations – perform an apostolate each Thursday. Some go to hospitals, parishes and nursing homes, others go to Caring for Friends.

“Seminarians get to see hands on the broader mission of Caring for Friends, and get to see in a broader window, what are people’s needs,” Cooke said.

Cooke said the seminarians also take meals to the homeless who live near the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Each Thursday, seminarians spend a few hours working in the Caring for Friends warehouse and freezer, making sandwiches, filling breakfast bags, preparing food and sealing boxes.

Senior, who once was assigned to Catholic Social Services, said he knew the “legendary” Rita Ungaro-Schiavone, founder of Aid for Friends. The bishop is glad the seminarians are able to assist in what remains a needed charitable effort.

“It’s practical, direct service. If you’re going to be a priest, you’re a servant first,” he said. “There’s a tremendous need for food for families.” ••

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