From staff reports
Fueled by a volunteer spirit, a growing ministry at Holy Trinity Catholic Church looks to nourish both body and soul. Open three days a week, the Holy Trinity Center food pantry, located on the campus of the Uptown Dallas parish, provides a lifeline to thousands in need in its community each year.
“The need out there is great,” said Susan Kleiman, a parishioner and volunteer at the Holy Trinity Center food pantry.
According to the North Texas Food Bank, the north Texas area has the fourth highest number of food-insecure people in the nation, with approximately 638,340 individuals facing hunger. About one-third of those are children. Started in 1981, the food pantry at Holy Trinity Catholic Church currently serves around 1,000 clients per month, offering food items, personal hygiene products and a sense of community.
“When we talk about our outreach for the poor, it’s visible, it’s on our campus, and it’s an opportunity for our people to have a one-on-one encounter with the people that come to us for help,” said Father Milton Ryan, C.M., pastor. “You can’t put a price on that. It’s not just about writing a check. It’s an opportunity to encounter Christ in those people that are coming to us for help.”
The parish priests at Holy Trinity belong to the Congregation of the Mission, the Vincentian Fathers, who as part of their charism focus on service to the most poor and vunerable. Father Derek Swanson, C.M., parochial vicar at Holy Trinity, said the work of parishioners and volunteers through the food pantry is a vital part of that ministry.
“It is a very important mission for us as a community of faith because not only is it something where we can distribute food to those who have the most need, especially in our area and the area surrounding us here,” said Father Swanson, “but it’s also a way for us to continue to serve our mission as followers of Jesus Christ here at Holy Trinity parish.”
Father Ryan pointed to St. Vincent’s own conversion from a self-serving person to one who helped those in need as a model for what the parish’s mission does.
“It’s not just with an idea that we’re going to help the poor,” he explained. “It’s more that I’m helping this person that is in front of me who has a name, has a story, who has a connection — a heart connection with me.”
Those connections matter, according to Kleiman.
“The people you do meet, and you discuss their life with them, they tell you their story,” Kleiman said. “You find out they’re just as normal as you and me. They’ve had wonderful lives and then tragic circumstances often turn things around for them.”
Often, it is a series of unfortunate events or a combination of circumstances that lead clients to need the pantry’s services. Financial struggles due to the pandemic and rising costs of living play a factor, according to longtime volunteer Marget Gillette.
“Rents are skyrocketing in the Dallas area. They are all over the country,” said Gillette, who on Oct. 12 joined retired priest Father Daniel Clayton in the back room of the pantry helping to put together care packages of toiletries and other necessities. “Sometimes it’s tough and people just need a little help.”
For P. Gerecci, a client of Holy Trinity’s ministry, receiving assistance from the pantry was humbling but appreciated.
“Different things have happened in my life, and it was very humbling for me to come to the food pantry,” Gerecci said. “I know people who are here. I was embarrassed to have to ask for food, but I understand that I have a common humanity with everyone, who sometimes needs help.”
Father Ryan looks forward to expanding the ministry to help more people in the parish’s immediate community and beyond.
“I’m looking at ways of expanding it in other areas of the city where we as a parish show up for opportunities,” Father Ryan said, “so that we can be converted by them. So that it is not just a place where we evangelize others, but where we ourselves are evangelized with them in this common mission that we have to recognize Christ in everybody.”
The food pantry is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon, and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. The pantry is always in need of donations of non-perishable food items as well as personal hygiene products. Donations may be dropped off at the center or at the Holy Trinity parish office. For more information, contact the Holy Trinity Center at 214-521-3719 or visit https://www.htccd.org/holy-trinity-center.