Two days before Thanksgiving, Cardinal Dolan assisted in the distribution of 500 turkey dinners in the courtyard of the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center in Harlem.
The Nov. 24 event supported archdiocesan Catholic Charities’ mission to address food insecurity, especially during this extra difficult year for many families adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You know what this feast day is all about, that we’re going to celebrate on Thursday, Thanksgiving to God,” said Cardinal Dolan at the Kennedy Community Center, located on West 134th Street.
“This goes on every day,” said the cardinal of Catholic Charities food distribution efforts, noting the substantial increases since the coronavirus crisis began in March.
The cardinal noted, “Our Catholic Charities people know the people; they inquire about them. They know their names; they know their relatives; they're going to ask how Mom is. They’re going to ask how the kids are, because it’s personal. It’s not a number; it’s not a case.
“They’re people; people made in the image and likeness of God. So God bless Catholic Charities. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities, said, “We’re here today because we have hungry neighbors. In the midst of this pandemic, the need is even greater. There is an incredible amount of nutritious food here, so that there will be nutritious Thanksgiving meals” for families in need.
He added, “Yesterday afternoon we distributed to 25 other places in the New York area, for their Thanksgiving meals, (through) parishes, community organizations and Catholic Charities programs.”
Msgr. Sullivan expressed gratitude for the dedicated work of Catholic Charities administrators, staff, volunteers and donors who helped make the turkey dinner distribution and related gatherings possible.
Deacon Rodney Beckford, director of the Kennedy Community Center, welcomed all and gave a blessing. “God shows no partiality. Everything matters that He creates,” Deacon Beckford said. “Amen?” And he got an Amen from the crowd, and from Cardinal Dolan as well.
“He created us to know each other, love each other and to serve each other. He created us to pray to Him,” the deacon added. “Good and gracious God, we ask your abundant blessings on us as we gather in this space. We ask your hand to guide us as we serve others. We ask your hand to guide the hands that need to be served...We ask your blessings on us to encourage us to be more like You, by doing as your Son has instructed us to do.”
Also offering words of support and thanks was Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Josefa Candia, 37, was among Catholic Charities clients who received turkey dinners for their families.
“I am very happy. I am grateful for this help,” Ms. Candia, a mother of four, told Catholic New York just before the food distribution started. Holding back tears, she said she received a program invitation to receive a turkey dinner for her family, and that this was the first year she has attended. She attends Mass at St. Cecilia and Holy Agony Church in East Harlem.
Ron Green, 67, was another Catholic Charities client in attendance. “They’ve been very good to me, and I’m very appreciative,” he said.