St. Vincent de Paul distributes food, invites prayer in Frogtown

| May 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

From left, volunteer Fidias Fors of St. Vincent de Paul in St. Paul helps Octavia Morris, 36, of St. Paul pick out bread during a one-day food drive at St. Vincent de Paul May 12. Morris, a single mother, came to the event with her son, Christopher Williams, 12. “I think this is awesome,” she said. “This is great to come to and be able to get some free food when you need it. I have six children, so it helps a lot.” Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Instead of fishing for walleye, Ross Feder and company “fished” for people at St. Vincent de Paul in St. Paul during the weekend of the Minnesota fishing opener.

“We’re going fishing with Jesus, and Jesus told me ‘food is bait,’” said Feder, a member of St. Vincent de Paul. “It’s to draw [people] in, because then you get a chance to talk with them.”

Since September, hundreds of residents in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood periodically have been coming to a basement full of food at the church, which hosted its latest food distribution event May 12.

The Hmong Catholic community that worships at St. Vincent de Paul has collaborated with other ministries to host a food shelf in its basement, with four food distribution events in the last eight months. Volunteers distribute the food and offer to pray with the guests, making for a ministry that feeds the body and soul.

More than 200 people came for food and prayer at the church’s May 12 event. Deacon Naokao Yang of St. Vincent de Paul said getting the word out made the difference in attendance.

“We’re trying to go out to everyone or every household in the neighborhood,” Deacon Yang said.

Feder coordinates the event with his own nonprofit, Jesus Does It All, which raises money to provide the food for the event. He also connected with the Rev. Peter Rodewald, aka “Pastor Pete,” a St. Paul Evangelistic Association pastor who distributes food through his ministry, Jesus Delivers, at Catholic and Protestant churches around the area.

“I believe the Holy Spirit is trying to work through people to bring unity of the faith,” Rodewald said. “I’m not Catholic, but I believe in [good] works, too.”

Rodewald gets the food from places such as produce companies and the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Minneapolis. He estimates that he picks up 50,000 pounds of food per week for the churches he serves throughout the region.

“I go to whoever is willing to evangelize,” Rodewald said.

As guests leave with their food, volunteers offer to pray with them. Volunteers came from various parishes such as St. Stephen in Minneapolis and the Cathedral of St. Paul, with which St. Vincent de Paul is merged.

“Their faces show amazement, and their eyes water because they don’t know exactly what they’re experiencing,” said Jan George about the receptivity of the people she prayed with. George, a parishioner of the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, North Dakota, came to volunteer with her nephew, Brent Bowman, a Cathedral of St. Paul parishioner.

“My guess is that they will go out in search of the answer to the question that God puts in their heart … ‘Who was that?’” he said.

Paul Yang, who worships at St. Vincent de Paul, helped with the food distribution and saw the supply dwindle steadily throughout the day. He said the ministry has been a success with the big turnout and most of the food being picked up.

“It’s a rewarding feeling just to give back to the community,” said Der Yang, also a St. Vincent de Paul member and volunteer.

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