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Ending hunger goal as Ursuline Sisters join forces

YOUNGSTOWN — As they often do for social justice issues, the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown are collaborating with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary in Villa Maria, Pa., to combat hunger in our community.

The initiative was inspired by a challenge from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for nuns across America leading up to Catholic Sisters Week, explains Ursuline Sister Mary Alyce Koval, who ministers as the parish leader for St. Luke Church in Boardman.

“We’re working to end hunger by heightening awareness to widespread food insecurity and its underlying causes,” she said. “We have a number of initiatives to directly fight hunger as well.”

Catholic Sisters Week is March 8 to 12. The annual event emphasizes all the good that vowed religious women contribute to society. Sister Mary Alyce and Sister Regina Rogers, who serve on the Ursuline Leadership Team, are heading efforts for their community. Sister Regina also is the pastoral associate for St. Edward Parish, Youngstown. Sister Toby Lardie, pastoral leader of the HMs, and Sister Mary Stanco, are coordinating efforts for their community.

The two local communities, who separately offer many ministries in the Mahoning Valley, are asking lay partners to also answer the call to combat hunger. Sisters Regina and Mary Alyce have also sent appeals to area parishes, Catholic schools and other local communities of faith.

“We understand the corrosive nature of hunger because both communities have numerous ministries that feed those in need,” Sister Mary Alyce said.

For instance, she said, St. Luke’s runs a pantry and contributes food and volunteers to the St. Vincent de Paul kitchen and pantry in downtown Youngstown. “Our Sister Kathleen McCarragher volunteers there, as do her father, brother and sister-in-law, who are Ursuline Associates, and other of our Ursuline Associates volunteer there,” she noted.

The Ursulines and Youngstown Catholic Worker volunteers collaborate with the HM Sisters at the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality near Youngstown State University on the city’s North Side. HM Sister Ann McManamon is the director.

Several local entitites have answered the call, Sister Mary Alyce said. Among them, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Summitville is collecting canned goods for the Lisbon Foodbank. St. Luke parishioners and CCD students are collecting nonperishable food for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. Boardman St. Charles CCD students are collecting food or monetary donations for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Further, Pam Jadue, director of the diocese’s five Early Childhood Learning Centers, has asked parents to collect food for either their local church pantries or St. Vincent de Paul.

Ursuline Sister Martha Reed led a collection of canned soup for the St. Columba Parish food pantry. The Mahoning Valley Association of Churches is donating $50 each to five local church pantries.

“The Ursuline Sisters are asking each sister to make personal monetary contribution during Lent and the community will match them,” Sister Mary Alyce said.

The HM Sisters are making a significant monetary contribution as well, said Kylene Kamensky, communications coordinator for their community.

“The Ursuline Associates are serving lunch at the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall during Catholic Sisters Week,” Sister Mary Alyce added.

Sister Yvonne Horning, OP, the pastoral associate with Immaculate Conception Parish in Ravenna, answered the call as well.

“I will make a gift card donation to local grocery stores, through the parish Knights of Columbus Lenten collection project, to be given to Catholic Charities serving Portage County for distribution to residents in need,” she said.

Sister Regina said St. Thomas Aquinas School students in Louisville are doing a food drive for their local food pantry.

In addition to inviting local parishes and lay people to become involved, Sister Regina contacted lawmakers asking them to support the COVID-19 relief proposal.

According to the LCWR, 54 million people in the United States are food insecure, including 18 million children.

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