Guardian Angels parish in the St. Paul suburb of Oakdale has a plethora of active social justice-oriented ministries, and one of them recently received some national recognition, thanks to some colorful tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, onions, melons and beans.
A photo of the harvest from the Parish Food Shelf Garden at Guardian Angels is one of the 12 pictures used in the 2012 social justice ministry calendar of Catholic Charities USA.
Chuck Kenow took the photo. He’s a member of Woodbury Lutheran Church, and, according to Barb Prokop of Guardian Angels, “is a committed Tuesday session gardener with us and who was influential in getting the garden started at their church.”
According to Bob Walz, justice and outreach coordinator at Guardian Angels, the garden project involves some 300 volunteers. On a large plot on parish grounds, food is grown for area food shelves, a Catholic Worker house and the regional Loaves and Fishes program. Parishioners of all ages grow plants from seed, till the soil, weed, water and harvest the crops.
The food shelf garden is just one of the social justice activities at Guardian Angels.
Walz noted that the parish:
- Has a justice education program that includes JustFaith, Engaging Spirituality, JustMatters, Sowers Forums and leadership training;
- Has an active outreach program that includes sheltering the homeless (Project Home), feeding the hunger (Loaves and Fishes, serving meals at Dorothy Day Center), caring for the sick (Befrienders and hospice volunteers, including writing memoirs of hospice patients), providing for the needy (Parish Food Shelf Garden, Giving Center, and monthly collection drives), blood drives, a military ministry;
- Seeks to promote long-term change through advocacy, based on Catholic Social Teachings;
- Has a Peace and Justice Action Ministry, Respect Life Action Team, key children’s advocate, key hunger advocate etc.;
- Has hosted the General Mills / Negro College Fund MLK Jr. Breakfast as well as an annual MLK holiday event.
As Walz put it, “GA seeks to be in solidarity with those of other cultures; we have had a sister parish relationship with St. Rita’s in Teustepe Nicaragua for more than 25 years. We sponsor annual exchanges. We are a CRS (Catholic Relief Services) partner, promoting fair trade, hosting regular Works of Human Hands fair trade sales and selling coffee and other fair trade products that benefit CRS and the artisans and farmers that have produced those goods. We host an Archdiocesan wide Filipino Mass, Cultural Celebration and Dinner on Santo Nino. We respond to needs in the community, whether unemployment, when we created an employment ministry or individual foreclosures or eviction notices.
There are, unfortunately, no Catholic Charities USA calendars left to purchase. You can see the calendar here (PDF).