In Avon, St. Benedict is feeding families food and faith

Categories: Around the Diocese

Oct. 25, 2013, edition
By Lynette Thelen

Every Wednesday at 5 p.m. the line starts to form and people head downstairs to the dining area at St. Benedict Parish in Avon.

The smells of home cooking greet all who enter.

All are welcome to eat and if you’re able to pay, there is a free will offering at the Community Meal.

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Families go through the serving line at the Community Meal Oct. 9, at St. Benedict Church in Avon. Pictured are Jason, Sara and Elliott Burnett. All are welcome to eat each Wednesday, and, if you’re able to pay, there is a free will offering at the Community Meal. Lynette Thelen / The Visitor

Recently The Visitor talked with Tim Stanoch, faith formation director in Avon, about starting the Community Meal.

Q: Why did you decide to go forward with it?

A: There are multiple reasons. One reason would be, I can sit and look out my window, here in my office, and see the drive-up at McDonald’s and it’s packed to the maximum on Wednesday nights.

I just thought there’s got to be a better way that we can come together and have dinner before class. In addition to seeing how people struggle, I thought it would be cool. We have an amazing facility. It’s sitting idle. We have the space to feed them. So why not use it?

It was also designed as an outreach. We have elderly. We have poor people. And the reason we know we have poor people is because we have a food shelf and people use it. So why not help them out as well? They can come here and get a warm meal at least once a week.

Q: So, what are the numbers? How many people have been served?

A: I would say on average we’re feeding about 150 people a week. I’m hoping that it will grow. For the most part, I think Kate Lentner (the cook who was hired) has done an amazing job, people like the food.

Q: Are you serving people who do need the food?

A: Judi Brekke is our hostess every week. So I asked her to keep track of who’s coming. There have been people that she hasn’t recognized. And that’s good. That’s what “Rebuilt” (see Editor’s note, below) is about, reaching out.

Q: I’ve also been reading “Rebuilt,” and it talks about reaching out and serving others. Did that inspire you to do this? 

A: It solidified what I wanted to do. I’ve actually had this idea for several years.

A year ago when I talked to Benedictine Father Blane Wasnie about this idea, he really liked it. And we talked about whether or not there is a need.

So we went to the finance committee, asked for the money and they said, “OK, we’ll make it work.”

This is part of our evangelization and outreach to our community. This is something we’ve put our priority into this year.

My dream would be that people come here and they “become church,” even without going upstairs to go to church.

Editor’s note: “Rebuilt” is a book by Father Michael White and lay associate Tom Corcoran, about their parish in a suburb of Baltimore that reached a breaking point. It tells how they stopped everything and changed focus to make the church matter. Their experience not only tripled weekend Mass attendance, but also yielded increased giving, flourishing ministries and a vibrant solidly Catholic spiritual revival. The book offers ideas to encourage growth for all involved in parish ministry.