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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Clare House News

by Tina Sipula

     People wonder when I tell them February and March are some of my favorite times of the year – not because of the horrible weather, but because I have begun the recovery from the food drive.  Food drive meetings begin in October, our team works very long and difficult hours all through November and then the holidays mean non-stop door bells and incessant phone calls.  January morning’s mantra is: “It’s over.”  The 50 phone calls a day stop, the new batteries have been placed in the worn-out door bell, and like the snow-covered daffodil leaves, we await in anticipation for the promise of spring.
     But it is all worth it when we spend the rest of year making sure everyone who comes to our door is fed, and not a single child goes to bed hungry.  We thank everyone who helped in any way with the Annual Holiday Food Drive and to those who continue to help throughout the year to feed our many brothers and sisters. Our food drive fell a little short of our goal, but we know the other food drives through the year will help to keep our doors open.  Special kudos to St. John’s Lutheran Church who is conducting their annual Lenten food drive, where their goal is to collect 5,000 items before Easter!  And many thanks to the businesses who have chosen to continue to collect for us throughout the year – beyond their usual drive during the month of November.  As one person recently told us, “Need has no season.”
     In February we had a great 75th birthday party for Sr. Glenda Bourgeois.  All the Clare House volunteers she works with were invited along with all of her friends from Decatur.  When she walked through the door and all shouted, “Surprise!” it was all worth it to see her look of awe and joy reflected back at her 60 friends.  We sang, ate, laughed, and of course, told stories for hours.
     On Friday April 19th at 7:00 p.m., we will host Rosalie Riegle at the Holy Trinity Parish Center, where she will speak about her two recently published books, Crossing the Line – Non-Violent Resisters Speak Out for Peace, and Doing Time for Peace.  Rosalie co-founded two Catholic Worker houses in Saginaw, Michigan and taught English at Saginaw Valley State University from 1969 to 2003.  The oral histories in these volumes include interviews with over 75 peacemakers  who have engaged in civil disobedience, often with the consequences of jail or prison.   A book-signing will follow her presentation.
     As Easter approaches, I am reminded of a quote from Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement:  “What we do is very little.  But it is like the little boy with a few loaves and fishes.  Christ took that little and increased it.  He will do the rest.  What we do is so little that we may seem to be constantly failing.  But so did He fail.  He met with apparent failure on the Cross.  But unless the seed falls into the earth and dies, there is no harvest.  And why must we see the results?  Our work is to sow.  Another generation will be reaping the harvest.” 


Lenten Reflection

by Donna Boelen
At the beginning of Lent we hear the phrase, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” which perhaps is a metaphor for the circle of life.  We begin as helpless, defenseless beings and end in a similar fashion.  Just as the forty days of Lent are a fraction of the 365 days of a year so is our existence in the scheme of things. How can we make the most of our short time on earth?
Let us celebrate Lent by fasting from passiveness and abstaining from selfishness.  Give alms generously in the form of time and talent.  Pray that our actions have a positive influence on someone else.
We have but one life to live and will not pass this way again so lovingly share the journey.

Grove School Food Drive

Brandon and Mindy Mauler delivering the donations collected in the 5th Grade classes at Grove School in a food drive organized by the 5th Grade Team.This is a great example of how important mini-food drives are to successfully providing for our community.

Book Signing with Rosalie Riegle April 19, 2013

The Catholic Worker: A Network for Social Change

By Sister Glenda Bourgeois, O.S.U.

Networking for social change captures headlines today, whether it is the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement, the cause of Violence against Women  or the Green Movement to mention but a few. In this moment of human evolution there is a surge to bring about desired and necessary change by awakening and activating the public. Communities are forming around urgent social issues.

It is in this light that the history of The Catholic Worker Movement has found and continues to find its purpose and meaning. Dorothy Day saw desperate human need. She saw the indignity of persons who were jobless, hungry and homeless and she did what she could to give them dignity. In a short time she was joined by others whose social conscience activated them to align with her to bring about a more just society.   As we know Catholic Worker communities   proliferated throughout the States and the world.

Here in Bloomington, Clare House, through the initiative of Tina Sipula, provides the opportunity and the organization for city wide networking to feed the hungry. Countless groups and many individuals are dedicated members of this Catholic Worker community as are those brothers and sisters who are served at Loaves and Fishes and those who stand in line to receive some life necessities. Clare House is the focus of extraordinary community here in Bloomington. It is a community that is inclusive and welcoming. The network of those giving and those receiving is the source of nourishment for everyone. I am so grateful to be included in this community.

Many Thanks

Many thanks to Flynn Tree Service for trimming the tree that was scraping against the side of Clare House. They donated this wonderful service and gave a generous donation during our food drive! So many good people out there! We are very blessed.

Need Has No Season

     When I thanked the fellow who delivered a truckload of food from Morris Tick yesterday, I told him how happy we were that they continued to collect for us. Originally they were only going to collect for our food drive in November, but they have continued to put empty barrels out for us at their business and people keep filling them up. His response when he went out the door was, "Need has no season!"

Lent: What Kind of Giving?

By Bill Tolone
            During the Lenten season, we sometimes think of "giving something up" as a way of self-discipline;  a favorite food or drink or even, in this day and age, our favorite form of technology.  But, we know that Lent means much more than this.  Fasting and abstinence are meaningful expressions of sacrificing something and, yet, "giving of ourselves to others in need" can be a better way of making choices to help our sisters and brothers.
            Scripture tells us (Matthew 25:35): "...for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me...."  This is a well-known and often-quoted passage, but scripture holds many more admonitions to give of ourselves.  For example, Isaiah (25:4) says " have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat."  And in Proverbs (31:20) a good wife is described as one who "opens her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy."  This is the kind of giving of ourselves which makes Lent a meaningful time for self-sacrifice and what we have done at Clare House for the past 35 years.    
            So, what can we do during Lent?  While the annual food drive for Clare House is held prior to Thanksgiving, the need for providing food is year-round.  Consider joining us as a Clare House volunteer and extend the Lenten season of giving of yourself.  Volunteering means just that;  not an obligation to do something every day or on a certain day each week.  It means doing what you can within your other responsibilities to family, work and school.  It can mean filling bags of food with us on either Wednesday evenings or Saturday mornings.  Or, it can mean helping to distribute food on Wednesdays or Fridays at 1:00 p.m.  Or, it can mean helping with the Loaves and Fishes lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays at St. Mary's Church in Bloomington.  Or, writing thank-you notes to those who contribute food to Clare House.  Or, organizing food-drives at your place of work or worship.  Or, donating books to the Free Library in front of Clare House.  Lots of ways to help our brothers and sisters in need.
            Once you become a Clare House volunteer, you will realize that, while you are helping the less fortunate in our community, they are "giving" back to you in a much greater way.

From our Facebook Page...


January 20, 2013:
This was recently left in our Little Free Library that we put out in front of Clare House last July:
"This was by FAR the best idea I have EVER seen, and it completely changed my attitude this evening. I am 27 and have a love for books. I was walking home from the bus, and his caught my eye! Thank you!!

January 9, 2013:
One of our women in the food line got a new pair of boots from one of our volunteers. She kept saying, "Happy feet!" "Happy feet!"

December 1, 2012:
A woman walked in today with 2 boxes of food to donate. I kept looking at her as she was speaking to Sr. Glenda, trying to place how I knew her. Finally I asked, "How do I know you?" She looked down and said, "I'm in your food line." She told us she wanted to give back and so she put a box out at her church and where she waitresses part-time. I started to cry and so did she, as I thanked her for asking others to help. Humbling and tender.

December 10, 2012:
I spoke to Mrs. Kirchner's 4th grade class at Holy Trinity today. They gave up a party to donate food for the needy. So I brought them cookies & we spoke about the importance of good works & read James 2, 14. They asked fabulous questions.

February 14, 2013:
A long-bearded homeless man sat huddled, near the wall of the soup kitchen. Even though his head was lowered into a book, I could see he was crying. Quietly I sat down in front of him. "What are you reading?" I asked gently. "The Bible," he responded in a whisper, his piercing eyes measuring my face. "What part?" "The only two words that matter right now...'Jesus wept,' he said. "Now I know I am not alone."

Scenes from the Clare House Winter 2012-2013