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Whence the Wednesday Night Supper Club?

You never know how some things are going to turn out…

Director’s Reflection

Dear Companions on the Journey,

You never know how some things are going to turn out…

About fifty-two years ago – before most people who worship at the Paulist Center Community were born – a number of community members wrung their hands, as they surveyed the dozens of people on the Boston Common without shelter or food.  Small in number, but great in faith, they started big, but manageable.  They decided to prepare a meal for those who would come on a Wednesday night.  Quite imaginatively, it morphed into what we call the “Wednesday Night Supper Club.”  For more than fifty-two years, members of the Paulist Center Community (some of whom worship with the community, some of whom don’t – I call our basement auditorium our “other sanctuary”) have served up delicious, nourishing meals for those who were hungry – always hungry for food, but some for community as well.  For decades, the Supper Club “charged” twenty-five cents for the meal (or free if you couldn’t afford it).  Why charge?  The early coordinators felt that the quarter-charge maintained our guests’ dignity.  They weren’t getting a free meal, they were buying their dinner.

I vividly remember one evening when I was sitting at a table with our guests.  We were served one of my favorites – hot dogs and beans – but another guest was not so positive: “I don’t have to eat this [expletive].  I paid for this, and I don’t have to eat it!”  My judgmental mind immediately jumped to a cliché: “Beggars can’t be choosers!”  The Holy Spirit was with me because I didn’t say my mean judgment aloud.  And then I reflected on the situation:   this guest maintained his independence and dignity.  For those of us from the middle classes do have the freedom to be “choosers.”  We can say “no.”  And our guest was right (not about cuisine but about dignity).

Through the years, the people of the Wednesday Supper Club have been some of the greatest in the Paulist Center Community – and that’s saying a lot!

But how things turned out, as I began this column?  Well, funding for the Wednesday required new energy and new imagination. For from the funding of the Wednesday Supper Club emerged the Greater Boston Walk for Hunger…

More on that next week.

What do you think?

And let us pray for/with one another.
The Paulist Center