Ending Hunger Goal as Sisters Join Forces

As we often do for social justice issues, the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown are collaborating with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Villa Maria, Pa., to combat hunger in our community.

Sister Mary Alyce

It was inspired by a challenge from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for nuns across America leading up to Catholic Sisters Week, explains Ursuline Sister Mary Alyce Koval, who ministers as the Parish Leader for St. Luke Church in Boardman.

“We’re working to end hunger by heightening awareness to widespread food insecurity and its underlying causes,” she says. “We have a number of initiatives to directly fight hunger as well.”

Catholic Sisters Week is March 8-12. The annual event emphasizes all the good that vowed religious women contribute to society. Sister Mary Alyce and Sister Regina Rogers, who serve on the Ursulines Leadership Team, are heading efforts for our community. Sister Regina also is the Pastoral Associate for St. Edward Parish, Youngstown. Sister Toby Lardie, pastoral leader of the HMs, and Sister Mary Stanco, are coordinating efforts for their community.

The two local communities, who separately offer many ministries in the Mahoning Valley, are asking lay partners to also answer the call to combat hunger. Sisters Regina and Mary Alyce have also sent appeals to area parishes, Catholic schools and other local communities of faith. An article on the initiative was published by the Catholic Exponent, the newspaper of the Diocese of Youngstown.

“We understand the corrosive nature of hunger because both communities have numerous ministries that feed those in need,” Sister Mary Alyce states.

For instance, she says, St. Luke’s runs a pantry and contributes food and volunteers to the St. Vincent de Paul kitchen and pantry in downtown Youngstown. “Our Sister Kathleen McCarragher volunteers there, as do her father, brother and sister-in-law, who are Ursuline Associates, and other of our Ursuline Associates volunteer there,” she notes.

Ursuline Associates recently made a meal for guests of the house, with some serving and dining with the guests as well. Pictured are Larry and Linda McClure.

The Ursulines and Youngstown Catholic Worker volunteers collaborate with the HM Sisters at the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality near Youngstown State University on the city’s north side. HM Sister Ann McManamon is the director.

Several entities have answered the call, Sister Mary Alyce says. Among them, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Summitville is collecting canned goods for the Lisbon Foodbank. St. Luke parishioners and CCD students are collecting non-perishable food for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. St. Charles, Boardman, CCD students are collecting food or monetary donations for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Further, Pam Jadue, director of the diocese’s five Early Childhood Learning Centers, has asked parents to collect food for either their local church pantries or St. Vincent de Paul.

Ursuline Sister Martha Reed led a collection of canned soup for the St. Columba Parish food pantry, as well. And the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches is donating $50 each to five local church pantries.

“The Ursuline Sisters are asking each Sister to make personal monetary contribution during Lent and the community will match them,” Sister Mary Alyce says.

The HM Sisters are making a significant monetary contribution as well, says Kylene Kamensky, communications coordinator for their community.

“The Ursuline Associates are serving lunch at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall during Catholic Sisters Week,” Sister Mary Alyce adds.

Sister Yvonne Horning, OP, the pastoral associate with Immaculate Conception Parish in Ravenna, answered the call as well. “I will make a gift card donation to local grocery stores, through the parish Knights of Columbus Lenten collection project, to be given to Catholic Charities serving Portage County for distribution to residents in need.”

St. Thomas Aquinas School in Louisville is doing a food drive for its local food pantry, Sister Regina adds, and CCD children at Little Flower Parish in Canton will be collecting items for their food pantry in March.

Sister Regina

In addition to inviting local parishes and lay people to become involved, Sister Regina contacted lawmakers asking them to support the COVID-19 relief proposal.

According to the LCWR, 54 million people in the United States are food insecure, including 18 million children.

“God is calling us to act, today!” the LCWR states.