Feeding Texans: the JBD Outreach ministry launches
DECATUR — On Jan. 18, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Decatur opened a food pantry and distributed food to 13 families — a total of 54 individuals — and they expect that number to double before next month. The food pantry is the first project of a new Outreach Ministry, started by Father Anto Vijayan Carloose, SAC, at all three of his parishes: St. John the Baptizer in Bridgeport, St. Mary in Jacksboro, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
They refer to themselves as the JBD Outreach Ministry to emphasize the three parishes in Jacksboro, Bridgeport, and Decatur act as one. The food pantry is no different.
At Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Paula Gardner, equipped with several years of experience volunteering at multiple food pantries, attended a parish meeting in July where the announcement was made about a new Outreach Ministry. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to lead the ministry and jumped in with both feet.
She explained, “Father spoke about starting this outreach ministry, and we talked about the many, many different needs we could fill. So after some discussion, we decided, knowing there is a great need for food, to start the ministry with the pantry.”
The three parishes worked together to establish the food pantry.
“We are working together; this is one ministry to serve all three parishes,” said Libby Gonzales who heads the ministry at St. Mary. “A lot of the groundwork was done by the ladies in Bridgeport and Decatur. They just took the ball and ran with it.”
Gonzales is the director of religious education and “saw the need for this to get started, to help our parishioners and our community out here.”
St. John the Baptist, whose ministry is co-led by Carol Schroder and Christy Vieth, was the first to open, distributing food on Jan. 5. They served 39 individuals.
Veith said, “We are doing it a little differently than most food banks do. We are trying to cater it to the people and families who show up” based on their needs and their family size.
Volunteer Andrea Mudd explained the ministry “is what our faith is all about. It’s the Corporal Works of Mercy. It’s very important that we live that out.”
Vieth has a background in health services and observed when she moved to Wise County that “the resources that larger areas have, we just don’t seem to have out here. I always felt like if I was ever in a situation to be a part of something that would help expand local resources, it would be something I wanted to do.”
Outreach Ministry volunteers are very grateful to have a supportive priest to lead the ministry.
Fr. Carloose felt compelled to start this ministry when he “saw the need in the community, in the elderly,” he said, and projected the food pantry will become a valuable resource.
After the first distribution in Decatur, the pastor said he was “happy, we expected a small number, but we saw a big number of people. We will only grow from here. Thirteen families is a good start, but we will grow to serve more and more people. This is just the start, just the beginning of what this ministry will accomplish.”
Food distribution occurs on every first Friday of the month from 10-12 p.m. at St. John the Baptist in Bridgeport; third Thursdays from 10-12 p.m. at Assumption in Decatur; and tentatively third Thursdays from 10-12 p.m. at St. Mary in Jacksboro.