By Br. Greg Plata, OFM 

Three friars from Gary, Indiana, served Thanksgiving dinner to nearly 100 people at the Carolyn Mosby Apartments, one of the city’s low-income senior housing centers. 

Br. Mike Surufka, OFM, led the event, along with Brothers Ed Shea, OFM, and Greg Plata, OFM, in collaboration with the Secular Franciscans of St. Mary of the Angels Fraternity in St. John, Indiana. Mike secured a local caterer, who prepared a holiday dinner for 125 residents. The meal included turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans, salad, and an assortment of desserts and refreshments. 

According to Data USA, 32 percent of Gary’s population lives below the poverty line, many of them single mothers. The national level is 12.6 percent.  

“A week before Thanksgiving we got the call from one of the residents we know, asking if there was an organization or church that could provide a meal for the residents,” Br. Mike said. “The man said it meant so much to the residents, as the Sisters of Charity had provided boxed meals in the past.” 

Mike “gave a ‘yes,’” he said, “and then went to others to figure it out.” He contacted caterer Angie McCrovitz and the local Secular Franciscans.  Their response proved both an unexpected and delightful blessing. 

Once the food, utensils, and serving trays were loaded at Holy Angels Cathedral, the group set up a well-organized buffet. Chef Angie had food prepared, and the Secular Franciscans provided paper products, drinks, and desserts. 

Br. Ed gave the opening prayer, and Secular Franciscans served residents food while the friars delivered drinks to their tables. 

“I was so happy to be able to reach out to these neighbors, literally two blocks away from our house here in Gary,” Br. Ed said. “They welcomed us into their home!  It feels like the beginning of a wonderful relationship that could last for years to come.” 

"It was the first communal, sit-down Thanksgiving dinner most of the residents have had in years,” Br. Mike said. “It was a gift to be invited into their community, to share in their stories and their friendship among each other.” 

The friars of Gary joined with their brothers in nearby Cedar Lake, Indiana, for their fraternal Thanksgiving meal later in the day.