SUPPLYING FOR THE HOPEFUL
Eleven years ago, Charlie Moran, his wife and children were the prayer family for one of the Friars. They volunteered to pray for him and encourage his vocation. As they got to know their Brother, they began to understand the Franciscan spirituality and particularly, their vow of poverty. Friars and Sisters of the Renewal own nothing and rely completely on Divine Providence for all their needs. We believe that God inspired a group of us to try and help through our support to provide for this fledgling order of Franciscans. Eileen and Rich Garbe and the families of our Friday night rosary group were some of the initial Friar Suppliers. Much to our surprise, it was not long before others started to join and donate. Each month we added a few new members to Friar Suppliers, and it has been growing ever since — not in leaps and bounds, but just enough to keep up with the growing order of Franciscans. As new postulants would join, God would send a few new Friar Suppliers to support them. Always acting on faith, we would trust that enough money would come in to buy what was needed for the Friars and Sisters.
Our rationale is: if we take care of their physical needs, they will have more time for prayer and service to the poor, and also, the community will be able to grow according to God’s design. As Friar Suppliers, we provide for all five Friaries and four Convents in the NY area. Here is how it is done:
The Friars and Sisters send us a shopping list each month. Charlie shops for all the food and groceries. He buys everything in large quantities, cartons, cases and 50—100 lb. bags at Restaurant Wholesale Supply. Odds and ends are purchased in BJ’s, Dollar Tree and Pathmark and a health food store for special dietary needs.
All the food is then unloaded by volunteers into our “florist” store refrigerator, freezers and home. On food-packing day, which is always one Saturday a month, volunteers of all ages show up to sort and pack the food. Some of the Friars and Sisters come to help as well. Except for lunch and noonday prayer, it generally takes from 10 am to 3 or 4 pm, with 20-30 volunteers, to do the job. Also on this day, the newsletter envelopes are addressed for the next month, and shipments going to Haiti are packaged for shipping. The Friars and Sisters, who come to help, take home their groceries. The next day, Sunday, I prepare a home-cooked dinner and a volunteer helps load the rest of the groceries into the van; Charlie and I deliver the groceries and enjoy dinner and a holy hour at one of the Friaries or Convents.
It is undeniably the work of God, how organized and smoothly this process runs. In 2003, Charlie volunteered to go to Haiti with a few Friars, Sisters and Friar Suppliers to assess the needs of this poor country and to explore ways that we could help. Seeing the poverty in Haiti was the beginning of another ministry within Friar Suppliers. Charlie returned to Haiti with a group in 2004 and then sent another group down in January 2009. We continue to collect and ship regularly medicine, personal care items, first aid, school supplies, rice, beans, and some summer clothing all of which gets shipped by boat in barrels from Jamaica, NY to Haiti and delivered to the Montfort's Parishes and the Little Brothers of St. Theresa Community.
Eileen Garbe has the greatest responsibility and commitment to Friar Suppliers. She is our treasurer and keeps careful account of every penny donated and spent. The donations for the Franciscan’s account are kept separate from the donations to the Haiti account.
This ministry would not exist without generous and faithful people. This is such an important ministry because we are aiding and fostering vocations and also serving the poor indirectly through the CFR’s and directly in Haiti where there is so much need. We consider all members part of our Friar Supplier family whether they live near or far. Never hesitate to pick up the phone and call us if you have questions or just want to chat about Friar Suppliers.