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Merry Christmas from
Bishop Bob and Mission OLA!


Christmas 2022

Dear friends, 

Greetings from Chicago! As we celebrated Thanksgiving, we had much to be thankful for here on Iowa Street. We were able to share in a beautiful Thanksgiving Prayer Brunch (the first since 2019) with about 250 guests and distributed over 1500 turkeys to our neighbors in need. We are now looking forward to making the Christmas season more joyful by distributing gifts to over 2,000 neighborhood children. 

In other news, we’re excited to let you know that the former Our Lady of the Angels School was officially rededicated as our new outreach center for the poor on October 2, 2022. Thanks to so many of you, this 5-year, multimillion dollar project is finally complete! The building features a 57-bedroom retreat/volunteer housing center for service groups, parish groups, and retreats, especially for young adults. The entire 2nd floor is dedicated to multipurpose rooms that will be used for those staying in the building as well as for future programs for our neighbors. The ground level contains our chapel, food pantry, walk-in fridge and freezer units, dining room, industrial kitchen, donation storage, and more! We were blessed that Cardinal Cupich and about 450 others joined us for the rededication. It was a beautiful and blessed day!


Our new outreach center is put to good use every Tuesday morning, when we welcome in 300-400 neighborhood families and 50+ volunteers for our ever-expanding food pantry. As prices skyrocket due to inflation around the country, those already struggling to make ends meet in our neighborhood have been hit particularly hard. A recent survey of our pantry guests found that over 70% of them have to make a choice between purchasing food or medicine each week. Amidst such heartbreaking conditions, we are grateful to report that unlike the other pantries in our part of the city, we have been able to keep our shelves stocked with milk, meat, eggs, and fresh produce each week thanks to the generosity of so many of you.

One of the most significant shifts we have seen in our pantry population over the past year is the dramatic increase in the number of pregnant or new moms coming to us. The baby formula supply crisis of the past year coupled with the effects of inflation have made this a very difficult time to be a mom in our neighborhood. Many face seemingly insurmountable difficulties such as potential homelessness or deciding between baby formula and regular milk. We try to help ease these difficulties by providing diapers, baby wipes, and many other new and gently used baby supplies. Over the past several weeks we have been distributing about 20,000 diapers per pantry!

One of our moms, Britney, originally came to us at the very end of one of our weekly pantries with her 6 month old son. She was so grateful for the food she was receiving, but looked especially disheveled and seemed to be struggling. 


Over the next few months we were able not only to help Britney with diapers and other baby supplies, but also to connect her with other services to help her with a very difficult domestic crisis. Whenever we called her to check in on how she was doing or what she needed, Britney would always first request books and educational materials for her son. Whenever her son outgrows the clothing or other items she received from us, she always brings them back to be shared with another family in need.

Another beautiful example of how God has used the Mission to help yet another family in crisis is Maria's story. We met Maria when she came to our pantry for the first time, pregnant and with a 5-year old daughter who was dressed in flip flops and summer clothes on a cold, January day. They had just arrived from Ecuador with essentially nothing but the clothes they were wearing. We quickly got Maria and her daughter clothing and all of the supplies she needed to prepare for the baby’s arrival. On top of that, just this past fall, we were able to offer a scholarship for her daughter to enroll in kindergarten at Maternity BVM Catholic School, where Sr. Alicia is now her religion teacher! Through a special new partnership with Big Shoulders, we were also able to register 11 additional children from our neighborhood at St. Sylvester Catholic School, where they are now taught religion by Sr. Stephanie!


In addition to teaching, another part of our Evangelization Apostolate that has continued to thrive is our “Nights of Mercy” program. These are special evenings in which different parishes throughout our region open their doors to welcome parishioners and passersby alike into the church for Eucharistic Adoration, quiet music, and the opportunity for the sacrament of Confession. At each event, Franciscans help to lead a street evangelization team to walk through the neighborhood and invite people to come in the church to pray and (re)discover Jesus’ presence in the sacraments. Thanks to these events, many people have come to pray in a Catholic Church for the first time in years!



None of these incredible events and positive changes in the lives of so many would be possible without the support of all of you. Please consider donating to support our work!
If you would like to stay in touch with us and hear updates on a more regular basis, we are excited to share that we now have a central location to sign-up for all our various email lists here: 

Please know of our daily prayers for all of you! Feel free to send us prayer requests at Please pray for us and for vocations to the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago.

Merry Christmas! Thank you and God bless,

Thank you! God bless you,


Bishop Bob Lombardo and the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago