Meal with a meaning

St. George and Mother of Divine Grace parishes host Poor Man’s Supper to collect donations for Kensington soup kitchen.

Soup is served: Members of Mother of Divine Grace Catholic Parish Gloria Discher, Argia Manso, Lucy McDonell and Terry Wahl, help serve soup at “Poor Man’s Supper.”

By Lindsey Nolen

Simple bowls of soup had significant meaning for Port Richmond parishioners last week.

St. George and Mother of Divine Grace Catholic parishes last Tuesday held “Poor Man’s Supper,” a Lenten gathering meant to signify the simple meals the homeless are likely to acquire.

This was the first co-hosted event since the parishes partnered last June.

With dozens in attendance at St. George Hall, the meal included bread and a variety of soups such as pasta e fagioli, Italian wedding, chicken noodle, tomato rice, pea, vegetarian chili and lentil.

Members of St. George Parish Donna Conway, 40, David Szczepanski, 55, and Carol Waskiewicz, 56, help prepare soup for the event.

The Rev. James Olsen, who became the pastor of both St. George and MDG in August, even brought his own vegetable soup, Brigantine Diner’s recipe, which he spent all afternoon making in the rectory.

“The ‘Poor Man’s Supper’ was something I used to do as a kid growing up in Warminster,” said Olsen, who suggested the parishes co-organize the event. “It gives us a chance to have a simple meal, and also to build friendships, a sense of community and to raise money. A real combination of community, charity and spirituality for Lent.”

The parishes asked each guest consider donating the money they would have otherwise spent out to eat that night on the soup dinner. Proceeds will benefit St. Francis Inn Ministries, a local food kitchen in Kensington.

Nasir Sims enjoys soup with Kaylaney Rivera, 5, Kaldence Sims, 2, and Katrina Rivera, 8, at “Poor Man’s Supper” at St. George Hall.

“The ‘Poor Man’s Supper’ is a longstanding tradition in the Catholic Church,” said Donna Conway, a lifelong member of St. George and an organizer of the event. “We hadn’t hosted anything with MDG since becoming partner parishes, so this was a good way to do so and to put our faith in action.”

Conway explained that, having grown up in Port Richmond, she does not identify herself by the street on which she lives, but rather by her parish. Working toward the success of both her parish and MDG, she was excited to see the line for their “Poor Man’s Supper” extend out the door when it kicked off at 6 p.m.

“I think it’s fantastic to see both parishes working together,” added Michelle Yost, a member of MDG. “I tried the Italian wedding soup and it was fabulous, so much that my husband had to get a second bowl.”

In the less than two hours the event took place, St. George and MDG raised almost $1,500 for St. Francis and sent the soup kitchen leftover soup and bread.

Aside from the charitable aspect of the meal, it also served as a way to bridge families and friends from both parishes as one.

“The event was a great way to begin a new tradition,” said Nancy Konopka, a member of St. George. “It’s showing that the partnership really is a success.”