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St. Jude Parish senior lunches

Kathy Barrett of St. Jude Church in Hinesburg shows a trifold poster bearing photos of participants in the Senior Meals at the church. (Vermont Catholic/Cori Fugere Urban) Kathy Barrett of St. Jude Church in Hinesburg shows a trifold poster bearing photos of participants in the Senior Meals at the church.
Maxine Burritt is a regular at the Senior Meals St. Jude Parish offers in Hinesburg. She brings her mother for the “good camaraderie,” hot meal and bingo games. “It’s fun, and the meals are good,” said the parishioner of St. Catherine Church in Shelburne.
 
Active St. Jude parishioners Kathy and Ted Barrett began the lunches nearly 10 years ago in the parish hall to “do something” for the seniors in the parish and in the community; one need not be Catholic to attend.
 
Ted, a retired engineer, saw a need, so he and his wife set out to meet it.
 
She is a retired preschool teacher and lactation consultant, and she wants to send the message that “our doors are always open, come join us” at St. Jude’s.
 
The Senior Meals take place on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month from noon to 2 p.m.; serving begins at noon.
 
Caregivers are welcome too.
 
According to Edmundite Father David Cray, pastor, the meals — before which grace is said — are a way for the parish to help seniors eat well and enjoy community life.
 
“We consciously make a lot of things happen here and let people know St. Jude’s is here,” he said. Such happenings include not only the Senior Meals but also Tae Kwon Do, Tae Chi, line dancing, Red Cross trainings, contra dances and baking classes.
 
Non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics who attend these events at the church might be drawn back to the practice of their faith or to join the Church. “We see it as part of the New Evangelization to be visible in the community,” Father Cray said.
 
On a recent Tuesday, the bingo games after the dinner were punctuated with laughter and good-natured banter. “They love it [attending the meal], especially during the winter” when there are fewer opportunities to socialize, Barrett said.
 
Friendships form, participants help one another.  Some share the bounty of their garden; some bring in prizes for bingo.
 
“I like having a happy place for people to come and talk, enjoy themselves and get a good meal,” Barrett said. “It’s a wonderful place to have something like this” in the parish hall, in the same building as the church.
 
“We have church members hosting people in their church house,” Father Cray said.
 
Barrett specifically chose to have the meals served to the guests, no buffet-style here, and no paper plates. “We want to make it festive and homey,” she said. “How would I want my parents or in-laws treated? With a little extra help and kindness,” said the mother of four and grandmother of four.
 
The hot meals are prepared by FitzVogt food service in Rutland and are subsidized partially by Age Well, formerly Champlain Valley Agency on Aging. The suggested donation for the meal is $4 per person.
 
The parish contributes as needed.
 
About 25 guests come to each meal, some arriving early for coffee and conversation.
 
“This is a good thing for the church to do,” Burritt said. “We are taught to share and give and share Jesus’ love. That’s what this is.”
 
-- Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.
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