An early January gospel reading was “the feeding of the 5000” story. I recommend you all read or meditate on it, after you read this. Though it pales in comparison, it must have been part of the inspiration of Fr. Jonathan Licari when he teed up the idea that HNOJ feed the Wednesday night religious education attendees, only to hear the sound of crickets in the meeting. The Apostles suggested to Jesus that they break up the crowd so they all can forage for meals and Jesus spurned the idea with instructions to the Apostles to find a way to feed them. He had a captive audience of 5000 and couldn’t imagine breaking them up and then spending many hours trying to regather them for his sermon. “…but Lord, it would take several years wages just to buy that much bread…” Jesus asked, “what do we have?” “Five loaves and two fish”, they replied. Can you imagine the expressions on their faces when he instructed them to divide it into two baskets and start feeding everyone?
HNOJ had seen a major fall off of religious ed. attendance after Fr. Arnold Weber retired. There were lots of excuses the parishioners gave. It was more important to eat together as a family was the main one Fr. Jonathan heard. Sports, dance, choir, band/orchestra, prime-time TV shows, were among the many other reasons. The “light came on”, for Father Licari, that the parish could try to feed them. You should have heard the groans. There were over 800 mouths to feed. How do we feed that many? Committee members were at a loss as to how to tell Fr. Jonathan, in a nice way, that it was a horrible idea. Diane Pasquarelli (may she rest in peace) stood up and said it was a magnificent idea, as the committee stared like deer in the headlights and tried to send mental messages to sit down and be quiet.
Diane was the kindest, most sincere, loving, giving person in the whole parish and nobody dared to make her feel foolish or challenge her, but they did ask her, “what do we have to feed them with?”. Without batting an eye, she replied, “we’ll get the KC’s to do it. Tom Silver, Steve Zylla, Greg Heggie, Jim Siefert, Dave Stumpf, all know their way around the kitchen and would be perfect for the job. All we have to do is ask them. They can serve pizza, hot dogs or simple meals. It’s no big deal”. The committee half-heartedly knew it would never work, but felt they all needed to be there to help pick up Diane’s feelings in the aftermath of the catastrophic failure.
At the very next KC council meeting, in the new business portion of the meeting, the suggestion was made, approved and the rest is history. There was very little push-back, to everyone’s surprise. “Let’s try it for a while and if it fails we can do something else.” Our resourcefulness and networking skills with large corporations in various food related businesses, has led to some pretty fine dining at HNOJ. I can clearly state that, as a result of our involvement with the Wednesday Night Fine Dining, we have more than doubled our membership numbers at HNOJ Good Samaritan KC Council.
To all our men and their families who dedicate so much time to that project, we all owe you tremendous gratitude for your efforts. We are only the secondary benefactors. The Religious Ed. attendance numbers dramatically increased and have held strong. There are parishioners who attend just for the social aspect of meeting other parishioners. As KC’s, our highest priority has to continue to be whatever our parish priests need us to be. That’s what made the KC’s, internationally, succeed since inception.