Once, when working in Texas in a parish, I was asked by the pastor to manage the parish’s outreach to the poor. It was a simple program, consisting of organizing the collection of food, clothing, and money from the parishioners and getting to know the people who came to us in their need. The program was completely voluntary, from beginning to end.
I recall getting a phone call one day from a lady who had three children and whose husband had left them in their trailer home in a remote suburb of Austin. She wondered if we could we help them with some food. “Yes, of course,” I replied. “What do the kids like?” “They love pork and beans,” she said. Because her husband took the car when he left, she asked if it would be possible for us to bring the groceries to her. I got the directions and arranged with a colleague to take the food out to the family. When we arrived, we placed the boxes of food in the kitchen and I proceeded to go outside and play catch with the kids, who seemed delighted to interact with a male visitor who was not yelling at them. When I came in to bid the lady a good evening, she was sitting on the kitchen stool crying. In her hand was a thirty-nine-cent can of pork and beans that she had taken out of one of the boxes. The beleaguered and abandoned mother was overwhelmed with gratitude for the kindness of people she had never met, but who cared for her family’s well-being. It was not the material subsidy that touched this woman and her family so deeply; rather, it was the concern of a community. No governmental program, no matter how generous, could even begin to meet the deepest human needs for love and truth. Thank you for your support of the Acton Institute’s efforts to promote this kind of caring society.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico