The final Mass offered at St. Matthew’s Church was on November 22, 2020, after 56 years. Bishop Johnston offered that Mass, where the last Gospel read was Matthew 25:42-45.

 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

It’s easy for us to see this God-wink now. This entire plan has been entirely God-driven; it exemplifies what I’ve always known, when you’re walking in God’s will, everything naturally falls into place.

Construction at the former St. Matthew’s Church is in full-swing, as we transition the glory of St. Matthews into the hope of The Serve&Lift Center. Throughout construction, our food pantry has stayed open and operational the entire time, just with lots of moving and re-arranging. In January our Serve&Lift Center in KC served 287 households where we provided 3010 hygiene items and over 17,224 pounds of food. RideKC added a bus stop near the Serve&Lift Center off Longview Road in June 2023, which has greatly aided accessibility to the pantry. We expect the construction to be completed late fall or early winter. Once complete, our Kansas City office will move into the Serve&Lift Center, where we own the property and will cut down on the overhead costs of renting. 

 The Serve&Lift Center will become the Kansas City hub of Catholic Charities of Kansas City- St. Joseph. The Welcome Center is the first point of care, for those seeking assistance. They may have the immediate crisis of hunger, but as we get to know them and ask more questions, we may learn that they are underemployed, then refer them onto our Employment Services case manager. The goal is to get everyone to the dignity of self-reliance. 

We will turn our client-choice food pantry into a “shopping” experience for our neighbors in need. Volunteers will walk through the aisles of food, produce and hygiene items and help families select items based on family size. We are pleased to offer a demonstration kitchen to our neighbors, teaching them how to prepare food with what they have available, rather that is a microwave, stove top, etc.

 Children and Family Services will relocate and have many comfortable Family Rooms, where case managers will meet with families in the Mom’s Empowerment Program, Social Butterflies Program, or those considering Adoption. Housing Services, Supportive Services for Veteran Families, and Employment Services will all have educational spaces and meeting spaces equipped to give those in need a hand up. 

Finally, we will have a beautiful chapel within the center. A place for staff and community alike to pause, pray, and be with God. This is where we will continue to have our daily 3pm prayer time. All are welcome, here we pray for those we are helping and each other. Care takers and those in service to others know the challenge of draining oneself. Mother Teresa’s nuns often voiced the same feelings, and her response was to increase their daily prayer time. 

 

This is a very exciting time to get involved with our mission to serve and to lift, and we have many opportunities for you to get involved: 

  • Consider a naming opportunity for a room or feature inside the pantry. There are many spaces – from the large employment services training room to stained glass features in the chapel to tables, chairs and other furnishings – available to bear their donor’s name, in a variety of giving levels. Contact Fred Darbonne fdarbonne@ccharities.com or 816-659-9292 
  • Leave a gift of any amount to participate in our Mabee Challenge, no gift is too small to help us reach our goal. 
  • Volunteer! We will have opportunities to get involved and help. Email volunteers@ccharities.com to learn more. 
  • Save the Date! Watch our website to learn more about our upcoming Ribbon Cutting tentatively planned for early summer. 
  • Pray for us. We are humbled to support our neighbors in need and thank you for any support you can give. 

As you read through our newsletter this month, we encourage you to listen to how God’s hand is guiding you or nudging you. We always welcome those of goodwill to join us on our mission to serve and to lift. 

By Ashley Everett, Director of Marketing and Communications at Catholic Charities of Kansas City–St. Joseph 

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