by Sister Suzanne Patterson, CSC
There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh baked bread. When we inhale that wonderful aroma at Saint Mary’s Convent, we know it must be Wednesday. Early every Wednesday morning our Nutrition Services Department bakes 16 loaves of mouthwatering, homemade bread, for sisters and staff alike, for our simple Wednesday midday meal.
Why do we eat a simple meal each Wednesday? Throughout our history as Sisters of the Holy Cross, we have always tried to respond to the call of our founder, Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, to answer the needs of people, wherever that leads us. As the sisters in Saint Mary’s Convent became less able to go out to those in need, they sought ways to support the efforts of others.
A little over 20 years ago, the sisters decided to implement Soup Day, which is now known as Simple Meal Day. Instead of the usual full spread of food options, on Wednesdays the menu is simply soup and bread (with peanut butter and jelly available), and a salad bar. The money saved by not serving a full meal is allocated to the Simple Meal Fund, and sisters who are committed to ministries in the greater South Bend area may request these funds to help support projects for local organizations.
A committee, composed of one sister from each community on the Saint Mary’s campus, evaluates each request and authorizes the funding. Donations can amount to $500 per organization. In 2019, the fund’s full budget of more than $6,400 was distributed.
Thanks to the Simple Meal Fund, the sisters have been able to help several ministries in our effort to walk with our less fortunate sisters and brothers. Ministries that have received funds include St. Margaret’s House, the Sister Maura Brannick, CSC, Health Center, Broadway Christian Parish United Methodist Church, Green Bridge Growers, the Center for Hospice Care, Rum Village Nature Center, St. Augustine Soup Kitchen, and a non-local entity, Casanicolas, a safe space in Mexico that offers emergency assistance for immigrants.
Through our small sacrifice of the Simple Meal Day, sisters and staff are accepting Father Moreau’s call to meet the needs of the times as we offer assistance to our friends and neighbors. We are thankful that we have been able to donate to so many local organizations for the past 20 years and that we are able to continue this ministry today.