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July 2020 - Special message from Fr. Bob & Mission OLA!

Dear family and friends,

Greetings from Chicago! Know that you have been in our prayers during these difficult and uncertain times.

While so much of our world has been closing down, the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels has continued to serve, shifting our outreach primarily to safe, outdoor, socially-distanced food distributions.

Between the job losses and other financial stressors brought on by the pandemic, our neighborhood’s high COVID-19 rate, and the extensive looting and retail destruction that our neighborhood has experienced in recent weeks, the current need at our weekly food pantry is the most intense and visible since the Mission opened in 2005.

Just three weeks ago, a few days after almost every grocery store, convenience store, and drug store within several miles of us had been boarded up, the only places you could get food in W. Humboldt Park was a small gas station around the corner and our food pantry. That week, neighbors came to us in tears, overwhelmed with gratitude at the amount and quality of food they were receiving from us.

Some shared that they had not eaten in days. One little girl, who had accompanied her mother to pick up food, was heard yelling excitedly, “Mommy, look! Now we have food again!"

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have served up to 729 families per week at our food pantry. This is TRIPLE the number of families we normally serve. Each family receives at least a full shopping cart’s worth of meat, dairy, produce, and dry goods, and we have formed partnerships with other local organizations to send weekly supplies of food to homebound senior citizens.

We have even moved into offering a “drive-through” section of the pantry to more safely distribute the four 25-lb boxes of dairy, meat, and produce that each family receives thanks to new COVID-19 USDA subsidies. As major retail chains have been rationing meat, we are still able to provide 15+ lbs. of meat to every family coming to us for food. We are truly blessed.

Stay up to date with our COVID-19/ emergency response effort HERE

The former school construction project has also continued. The new kitchen, sprinkler system, and the rest of the 1st floor is nearing completion. Once we’re able to move back inside, we’ll have the capacity to serve neighbors breakfast at the food pantry using our new, industrial kitchen. Work on the 3rd floor retreat/volunteer center is also well underway.

Plumbing for the bathrooms is going in as you read this letter. By mid-August, most of the bathrooms for the 45 bedroom retreat/volunteer housing should be complete. We’ll be starting to assemble the bedrooms in the next few weeks.

Surprise costs continue to pop up. The latest new expense is the windows. The former school building has 3 sets of original 1960 windows that are broken, frequently leak, and aren’t insulated. These need to be replaced within the next few months. Initial estimates are over $200,000 because of their location, height, and structure.

As other unforeseen costs manifest, we continue to seek financial support to finish this project. Stay up to date with the renovation progress HERE

Most importantly, please pray for the Mission and for all those we serve. If you can support the Mission with a monetary donation at this time, we would be very grateful! We absolutely understand that some people are facing financial hardship and cannot donate. Please know of our prayers for you. If you’re able, please consider making a donation to the Mission.  

  Donate to MIssion OLA  

The Franciscans of the Eucharist, the community at the Mission, continues to grow and prays daily for your intentions. This May we celebrated two of our young members, Sr. Macey and Sr. Emily, becoming novices, and Sr. Jess recently graduated with her teaching degree. During COVID, each Franciscan has prayed an additional Holy Hour each day for the intentions of our benefactors and the needs of the world.

Many of these were prayed in the new Adoration chapel in the former school, the first (and only) totally completed room in the building.

Please continue to pray for us. If you have any specific intentions you’d like us to pray for, please write olamission@gmail.com and we would love to add your intentions to our prayer list.
Thank you for your incredible support. Our COVID-19 response effort would not have been possible without all of you and the grace of God.

Thanks and God bless,


 

Fr. Bob Lombardo