July 21- Aug 3, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 26
The Kitchen’s Open
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Chuck Wainwright
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception’s Parish Kitchen in Syracuse recently received a facelift.
With funding from local politicians, an anonymous foundation in New York City and the Cathedral’s own resources, the facility now boasts an entirely new kitchen as well as a remodeled men’s room.
“We had renovated the women’s bathroom maybe five or six years ago, but the men’s bathroom was in bad, bad shape. The kitchen was too,” said Father Joseph Champlin, the former rector of the Cathedral and the quarterback for the project.
“It’s a lot more efficient for us to cook in it. It’s just cleaner and more efficient,” said volunteer Bob Kelley, who attends St. Leo’s Church in Tully and has helped out at the kitchen for roughly five years.
Most notably, the kitchen provides a weekly breakfast for men who stay at the Oxford Inn or the YMCA. For most of them, it is their only means of obtaining a hot meal in the morning.
Some 60 to 70 men are welcomed to the kitchen each Wednesday at 8 a.m. Approximately 25 volunteers help feed the men.
“We give them a very substantial hot breakfast, which these men don’t receive every or even most mornings. Eggs, ham or sausage and toast, cereal,” said Sister Anne-Marie Graham, D.C. Sister Anne-Marie has been the co-coordinator for the kitchen along with Henry Centore, who attends St. Anne’s Church in Taunton.
Sister Anne-Marie will soon leave the Cathedral. The Daughters of Charity have been associated to the Cathedral for 153 years. Cathedral parishioner Patricia McMahon will take up the ladle and help coordinate the kitchen after Sister Anne-Marie departs. McMahon, who has gone through the Formation of Ministry Program in pastoral care previously oversaw a kitchen which served Cathedral parishioners while their children were attending religion classes after the 9:30 a.m. Masses.
“What I said to everybody is that I just moved from one side of the parish to the other,” McMahon said. In an effort to obtain funding for the project, Father Champlin visited both New York State Assemblyman William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse), through whom the project received $6,000, and State Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), through whom the project received $10,000.
Father Champlin also sought the aid of a large charitable organization based in New York City, which provides for people in need at the national and international level and received $5,000. In addition, the project received funding from the Cathedral itself, taking advantage of the interest accrued from a fund committed to combating poverty.
Altogether the funds available to the project totaled around $30,000.
According to Father Champlin, however, the resourcefulness of local engineer John Stopen as well as the diocese’s director of grounds Ed King helped the actual worth of the project exceed the available funds.
“The project was worth a lot more than $30,000. Now it’s very bright and attractive. And it serves several people,” Father Champlin said.
The kitchen is one unit of a diocesan-wide effort to help the poor and disenfranchised. Like the Oxford Inn, the Parish Kitchen has existed with little incident in its 16-year history.
“They’re very orderly. They’re very down to earth,” said McMahon in reference to the men from the Oxford Inn and the YMCA. “I don’t think we’ve experienced any rowdiness at all. They’re very grateful. They’re very grateful that we’re doing this for them.”
Serving in the kitchen is also rewarding for the volunteers.
“It’s been a really enlightening experience and a really rewarding experience,” Centore said. “The whole thing about this program is that the volunteers that we get here are absolutely the greatest people. They can run this program. They’re just great at it and they’re always willing to pitch in with anything. We’ve got a great community here and there’s a great sense of fellowship. We feel as if we’re doing a worthwhile thing for ‘the least of our people,’ as the Lord says. That’s what makes it happy.”
In addition to the men served on Wednesday mornings, the facility hosts a monthly meeting for the Friendship Club and every other month hosts a dinner for the Samaritan Center.