Tag Archives: St. John’s church

Helping folks eat healthy – 🎵🎵 🌽🍅🍆💗 to our souls!

St. John’s Food Program: Helping the Working Poor Survive – And Saving Lives!

By Dorrie Maynard

ICT editor Rose called me a month ago and asked me to write a story about St. John’s church (located on Temple Street in Worcester) – specifically the church’s amazing  food distribution center/pantry/kitchen. I balked – told Rose there have been many stories written about St. John’s and that I would not have anything interesting to add. However, she pressed the issue, like she always does, so I took the assignment … and onward I went!!!

ICT’s intrepid Dorrie Maynard at St. John’s church community kitchen!🌺

First, I had to talk to the program’s director Bill Riley to see if he was interested in doing a story for InCity Times and go from there. Volunteering with Central Mass Kibble Kitchen, I am at St. John’s twice monthly passing out pet food to the working poor who have cats or dogs to feed, so I know Bill. I went in and asked him if he was up for another story – a cover story. To my
surprise, he agreed! He told me to be at the church’s St. Francis food center (named after the patron saint of the poor) the following Tuesday at 7 am when the doors open and I could shadow him for the morning.

I called Rose to tell her that Bill had agreed. She was ecstatic! I told her Billy wanted me at St. John’s  for 7 a.m!!!! I like my beauty sleep!😉 I don’t get out of bed to go to my
real job until 7:30 a.m! So “heading to church” for 7 a.m  was not something
I was looking forward to!  I had to have my early bird sister give me a wake up so I’d be sure I was up at 6 am the following Tuesday.

When I got her call that day it was
still dark out!!!! …


My dogs were a bit confused as
well! We never get up at this “unGodly” hour, but I had made the commitment, now I had to walk the walk! I got to St. John’s about 7 a.m. when the doors to their community kitchen open, there was a line already out the door – folks waiting to get a free, nutritious breakfast to start their day. About 70% of the folks who go to the food kitchen are the working poor – THEY HAVE JOBS BUT AFTER PAYING RENT AND OTHER BILLS THEY HAVE TROUBLE BUYING GROCERIES FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES. St. John’s supplements their usually minimum wage pay checks. The rest of the “guests” are the homeless/struggling.

Church and school groups offer their time and people power! They volunteer at St. John’s food pantry/kitchen, helping to feed the hungry, as Jesus Christ preached to the world! pics: Dorrie Maynard👼

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I made my way in to the food pantry to find Bill. He suggested that I stick around – work the food line for the day – and get a real feel for the place. I would see how things ran … I was already up, so even though I wasn’t happy about the game plan, I decided to take a step and observe the busy-ness of the place.

Bill showed me around a bit and then handed me my apron and told me to get behind the counter and start serving!!! Pronto! I was put in the front line at the bread station. I was
giving out bread and placing ham on it so people could make sandwiches to either eat there or “to go. ” Diners next stop was the girl beside me who was putting cheese on the ham. Then from her, “guests” put on condiments.

It really was quite assembly line – a bit crazy at times, but once I got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing!

There was such volume …

Some of the hundreds of pounds of donated food!

…and people wanting ham but not thr cheese! Or two pieces of ham – not three! Some folks wanted wheat bread, some wanted white, some didn’t want the ends, some didn’t care.

At one point, I heard someone yell at me: “Hey, aren’t you the cat food lady?” They remembered me from my Kibble Connections visits!

I said: YAH!

There are many people who visit St. John’s for their breakfast and lunch and then visit the Mustard Seed soup kitchen for their dinner. I volunteer at the Mustard Seed too – giving out pet
food every Wednesday through the Kibble Connection. And I also help the poor or himeless by giving out items that people need on a regular basis – so
there were many familiar faces at St. John’s!

Bill told me they feed several hundred people daily!!! He feels for the people who pay their rent and bills and don’t have enough money to feed themselves (as their food stamps have been cut back) or buy extra items that are needed. Some people are indeed homeless and
struggling with addictions.

Everyone is welcome at St. John’s, assuming they can adhere to the “tight ship” that Bill runs and maintains. Bill is a former prison guard who tolerates no games, no dealing, no rudeness, no cutting in line, no problems on the premisses. There is a Worcester Police officer on duty at all times to enforce this policy, if needed.

Bill pretty much knows everyone by name and shows everyone respect and goes above and beyond to make people happy.

People come to him with special requests: asking for a cake
for a birthday, some ice cream for a family celebration, some cottage cheese, some fruit,etc. Bill either goes in
the back to find it himself or asks one of his many dedicated volunteers to make the journey into the many places where these goodies can be found! He’s a truly selfless man!

St. John’s has been blessed with the support/partnership of the Stop & Shop supermarket chain …


Bill has two vans that are out daily making pick ups of food that hasn’t sold but is still completely edible. Bill also gets many donations from other retailers that are unable to sell things for one reason or another. On the day that I was there, he was fortunate enough to receive a large donation of
new bed pillows! There was something wrong with the UPC labels that made them
unsalable. Bill is super generous and asked if I would like to have some for the women at Abby’s House. Knowing that we can always use items for the shelter guests, I quickly said YES!

Another person I need to mention that has generously contributed to the success of St. John’s Xavier Food Center is Frank Carroll. He has helped to build the building and the new cooler that was much needed. Frank is on the board and is a member of the Church community. When Frank’s wife died, Bill and several of his volunteers stood outside on the sidewalk between the Church and the center when her body was driven by in the hearse to pay their final respects.

Pastor Father Madden is also a very visible figure at the Xavier Center! He runs a ROBUST AND WELCOMING ST. JOHN’S CHURCH THAT EMBRACES COMMUNITY!

I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Madden the day that I was there and was present when he said grace before the meal. Everyone stood together, and even though they may have been different from each other on many levels, it was so great to see everyone standing together and praying and hoping for the same things!

At the end of the day, Bill turned to me and said: “Dorrie, you got your story.”

And that I did💗.

St. John’s Xavier Center is a place that people can go to to get a good meal,a smile, mutual respect and, if they are lucky enough, a new bed pillow!💗💗

The hours at St. John’s Xavier food Center are Monday through Friday, 7 am – 11 am. Food is served there and food is also given away. Families seeking food boxes must live within the 01604 zip code.

Saturdays 8 am -10 am – the St. John’s church free veggies and fruits (and other goodies!) give away. The location is 20 Temple St.

Free veggies and fruit at St. John’s, every Saturday morning!

Worcester news you can use!🌸🌻🌺💐🌼

Edwards, Chris
Chris Edwards

Clark University
950 Main St.

March 16 at Clark University: regional transgender author to discuss new memoir, ‘BALLS: It Takes Some To Get Some’

Boston-area author and transgender advocate Chris Edwards will talk about his life-changing journey and read from his memoir, “BALLS: It Takes Some to Get Some,” at Clark University at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons, 2nd Floor.

The event is part of the Higgins School of Humanities’ spring dialogue symposium, “What’s so funny?” which includes lectures, community conversations and exhibits on humor.

Edwards grew up in the Boston suburbs and started the process of transitioning from female to male at the age of 26 when he was a copywriter at a high profile ad agency in Boston.

Edwards, who came out at a company board meeting before his white, middle-aged colleagues, endured 28 painful and extensive surgeries to become the man he is today.

He’ll reveal how humor helped him negotiate his gender transition and gain acceptance from his family, friends, and colleagues at a time when the word “transgender” was almost non-existent.

Edwards has been interviewed by O Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Refinery29, Vice.com, the Improper Bostonian, New York Post and NECN about his book, and about being young and transgender in the workplace. He was recently interviewed by The Boston Globe about his decision to attend his 10-year high school reunion while transitioning from Kristin to Chris.

“That’s when it hit me … everyone was going to assume I didn’t show up because I didn’t have the, well, balls,” Edwards told the Boston Globe. “And while technically that might have been true (that surgery was years away), after publicly transitioning in front of 500 coworkers I’d developed quite a set of cojones. I was not about to let my former classmates think I was ashamed. I was going.”

Books will be on sale and a signing will follow Edwards’ talk. This free, public event is sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program.




EB3KP2 Flintlock pistol display at Culzean Castle, South Ayrshire, Scotland
Flintlock pistol display at Culzean Castle, South Ayrshire, Scotland

March 16 at Clark University: historian to give talk, ‘Controlling Guns, Then and Now’

Historian Lois Schwoerer will present, “Controlling Guns, Then and Now,” at Clark University at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, March 16, in the Higgins Lounge, Dana Commons, 2nd Floor.

This lecture offered as part of the Roots of Everything Series.

Currently in the U.S. much of the debate around gun control focuses on the second amendment, however, struggles between government effects to regulate gun ownership and public gun culture date back to the 16th and 17th century England. When the English government tried to limit possession and use of gun to wealthy subjects, the policy was met with outrage and willful disobedience.

In this timely talk, Professor Schwoerer will examine the impact of gun ownership and regulation on both the government and private subjects of early modern England. Mark Miller, professor of political science and director of Clark’s Law and Society concentration, will offer commentary.

Schwoerer is Elmer Louis Kayser Professor Emerita of History at George Washington University and Scholar in Residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library; she was a member of GWU’s History Department for 32 years. Professor Schwoerer’s recent book “Gun Culture in Early Modern England” identifies and analyzes England’s domestic gun culture from 1500 to 1740, uncovering how guns became available, what effects they had on society, and how different sectors of the population contributed to gun culture.

The Roots of Everything is a lecture series sponsored by the Early Modernists Unite (EMU) — a faculty collaborative bringing together scholars of medieval and early modern Europe and America—in conjunction with the Higgins School of Humanities. The series highlights various aspects of modern existence originating in the early modern world and teases out connections between past and present.

This free, public event is co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities, the Early Modernists Unite, and the Department of History.


Purchase these NOT-TESTED-ON-BUNNIES cosmetics and personal care products at Walgreens, CVS, Target and your local super-market. Go cruelty-free!!



Rose’s fave saint – ST. FRANCIS XAVIER – Patron Saint of Animals. This little St. Francis sits by Rose’s back door, blessing Lilac and Jett as they enter and leave the apartment. pic: R.T.

St. John’s Church
Temple Street, Worcester


THE 94th ANNUAL NOVENA OF GRACE IN HONOR OF ST. FRANCIS XAVIER will begin Saturday, March 4 and run through Sunday, March 12.

Mass and Novena prayers will be held on the weekdays at 9:15 AM, 12:15 and 6:15 PM and on the regular weekend schedule (Saturday 4:15 and 7:15 PM, Sunday 8 and 10:15 AM, 12:15 and 7:15 PM).

Benediction and Novena prayers will be celebrated at 2:15 PM on March 4th and March 11th.

This year’s theme is “The Love of Christ Impels.”

All are welcome and encouraged to participate in this great Lenten tradition!

Green Island: Lorraine!!! and … City of Worcester beautifies Crompton Park!

WIN_20150328_234135 (2)-1Sweet Lorraine! Lorraine Laurie in a sparkly Christmas blouse!

Lorraine Laurie 101

By Rosalie Tirella

Lorraine Laurie has been the “Mayor of Green Island” for more than 35 years! Born and raised on nearby Dorchester Street, she fell in love with Millbury Street/the Crompton Park area as a young woman fresh out of Anna Maria College. Lorraine began her love affair with Green Island in earnest then! She helped organize and chaired Green Island residents’ groups galore, befriended the area’s senior citizens and wrote a history of her adopted neighborhood! For many years her typewritten history, with the construction paper cover, was housed in the file cabinet of the Green Island Community Development Corporation where she worked as the neighborhood outreach worker, the virgin draft lovingly stapled together, illustrated by Lorraine!, always available to all to peruse or read!

Lorraine first began her political activism on behalf of Green Island in the 1980s, working with the late, great District 4 Worcester City Councilor Jan Nadeau. Lorraine organized the neighborhood’s seniors around Jan’s causes because Jan, who lived in a teeny house on Southgate Street, was TOTALLY FOR THE PEOPLE OF OUR HOOD! She only weighed around 95 pounds but Jan was a force to be reckoned with when she latched onto a neighborhood issue. A great advocate for us! We still miss this wisp of a lady, a cigarette always at her fingertips, that raspy laugh – more generous and sweet than rough! 

Lorraine, along with Jan and then Mayor Ray Mariano, fought like hell to build a seniors housing complex in “the Island,” so the neighborhood’s elderly had a safe place to live and enjoy their golden years. Today Lafayette Place, on Lafayette Street, the street where I grew up, still shines with old folks who can be seen going in and out of the building or working in the Lafayette Place community garden!

Lafayette Place would never have happened without Lorraine. She’s got pitbull tenacity when it comes to her beloved old folks!

Further up the road, on Vernon Street, Lorraine works with Sister Pat and the Ascension church campus folks to make that part of our neighborhood sparkle! She is a member of St. John’s Church on Temple Street and is on the church volunteer board. St. John’s Father Madden leads the parish – and provides the direction and vision for the Ascension church campus and St. John’s food pantry and community kitchen where lunch and breakfast are served daily.

Lorraine has been a part of all this!

Lately, she’s been doing quite a bit of Green Island reporting for InCity Times! Lorraine has a way with her Bic, all right! Good stuff, Lorraine! 

We thank Lorraine for her decades of volunteerism, true-blue devotion to Green Island … and that great, toothy grin!

Smile bright, grrrl! Smile on!!!


Crompton Park – Green Island’s “Jewel” – to Shine

By Lorraine Laurie

Did you know that the Green Island neighborhood has a “jewel” in its midst?   It’s Crompton Park bordered by Quinsigamond Ave. and Endicott, Harding and Canton Streets. The park is 14.63 acres and is located in the southern part of the “Island.”   Crompton Park has been home to the Green Island Neighborhood Center for over 30 years and also features “Cousy Court” named in honor of basketball great Bob Cousy and a $2.7 million dollar state of the art swimming pool complex.

This year, the “precious gem” is going to shine even more thanks to a $400,000. Parkland Acquisitions and Renovation for Communities (PARC) grant from the State.  The City of Worcester has also committed $600,000. to the project. State Representative Daniel Donahue and State Senator Michael Moore were very supportive of the grant proposal.  Representative Donahue, when asked about his feelings about the grant being awarded said” I am overjoyed to see the long overdue renovations coming to Crompton Park.  Crompton Park is one of the most used and beloved parks in the City and the upgrades now coming will allow the park to continue to serve the neighborhood and those who come to use the park.  It was great to work with the City to help secure a PARC grant from the State for $400,000. with matching funds from the City to make this project a reality.”

According to Robert C. Antonelli, Jr.  Assistant Commissioner City of Worcester- DPW & Parks, plans call for moving the existing entrance drive on the Canton Street side to the other side of the pool, upgrading tennis courts, making a new parking area and doing other miscellaneous upgrades.  Antonelli said that the parking area is being moved “to allow for more open play space between the pool and the playground as well as expand parking in a more controlled area and upgrade the tennis courts.” District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera, a big supporter of Worcester parks for family recreation, pointed out that “We will also have bases for future lighting on the tennis courts” and a handball area.  The work will start in August of this year after the pool season, Green Island Neighborhood Center summer program and Tenacity ends.   Hopes are that most of the work will be completed by November 2015 but some work may spill over to spring of 2016.

The plans for this and future upgrades came as a result of several well attended public planning sessions held at the Green Island Neighborhood Center in late 2010 and early 2011.  The plans were approved by the Parks Commission on March 31, 2011 and by the Worcester City Council on February 28, 2012.    What makes this planning session so special is that the master plan is available for viewing on the City Parks Department web site. According to Mr. Antonelli, the City “will continue to look at grant opportunities as well as state, local and federal funding.” Sophia Brozowski, a long- time Green Island resident and activist who participated in the planning sessions said that she has “high hopes for the project but wishes that the implementation was more timely.”

Ron Charette, Executive Director of the South Worcester Neighborhood Improvement Corporation which runs the Green Island Neighborhood Center, attended and hosted the planning sessions.  He summed it up this way. “The renovations that will soon take place in Crompton Park are a sure sign that the Green Island neighborhood is alive and healthy.  A state of the art neighborhood park and swimming pool are key ingredients to good quality of life in the Green Island Neighborhood.”  Crompton Park will continue to shine as the “jewel” of the Island neighborhood.

A “church” grows in Vernon Hill!


Ascension Church, located on Vernon Street, has become a “satellite campus” of St. John’s church. (photos R.T.)

Green Island’s St. John’s church breathes new life into the former Ascension church!

By Lorraine Laurie

When God closes a door, He opens a window.  Have you ever heard that statement before?  Maybe your Grandmother used to say it when things didn’t go the way you had hoped.  Or maybe you remember hearing it in a church sermon? Or perhaps you recall Maria saying it in the “Sound of Music”?

Right here in Worcester, in one of our older neighborhoods, a Catholic church’s doors were closed and the parish suppressed.  The Church of the Ascension located at 40 Vernon Street was that church.  The closing Mass and reception “A Celebration of Our Heritage and Future” took place on Sunday, June 29, 2008, at 2 p.m.  The parish was merged with St. John’s on 40 Temple St. and the Mass of Welcome occurred on Temple Street on Sunday, July 13 at 12:15 p.m.

According to Fr. John Madden, Pastor, St. John’s retained all the Ascension parish’s assets and liabilities.  The rectory was sold to pay off the debt but St. John’s wanted to use the church and hall in a manner that would maintain the Catholic presence on Vernon Hill.  St. John’s first explored adding more units to the Village at Ascension Heights, the senior housing building located at 42 Vernon Street in back of the church and parish center where Fr. Madden serves as the President of the Board of Directors. This was the wish of the Ascension parishioners and Fr. Madden thought that providing elderly housing would be a great legacy for Ascension parish.


St. John’s church, Temple Street

When they did not obtain the HUD grant to go forward, St. John’s changed direction. Fr. Madden recalls that on one Sunday afternoon, he was at North High watching the City Basketball Tournament.  He was talking to David Shea, a former student of his from Holy Name, about how he wanted to ask Kareem Tatum, Assistant Principal at Union Hill School and a former Holy Name student, how the Ascension Campus could be used to help the school.  Standing on the other side of Fr. Madden was Marie Morse, the Principal at Union Hill.  Fr. Madden thought that it was providential and said that “we have tried to follow God’s plan from that moment on.”

With the help of volunteers, especially from Rebuilding Together Worcester, the closed parish center on Vernon Street was cleaned, painted and repaired and in the summer of 2012 was the site of a fun-filled summer program for neighborhood youth.

A new sign went up at 44 Vernon Street – “St. John’s Parish – Ascension Campus.” Fr. Madden firmly believed that “This providential care of God continued when Sr. Pat Murphy became available.”

Fr. Madden went on to say that he “has known Sr. Pat for more years than either she or he is willing to admit.”  Sr. Pat, a Sister of St. Joseph, had been the Principal of the Catholic school in his hometown of Milford.  She left that position when she joined the Leadership Team of the Sisters of St. Joseph.  When her term was completed, she was looking for her next ministerial experience.  Fr. Madden approached her, even though he thought that it was more likely that an elementary school would hire her.

The After School program presented a new and different challenge and Sr. Pat was exited to undertake it.  In collaboration with the administration of Union Hill School, the dream became a reality in the fall or 2012.    The door had been closed but God was opening a window!

Sr. Pat sums up the goal of the St. John’s / Ascension Campus After –School Program this way:  “Our goal was to provide a safe, welcoming environment where children could receive assistance with their homework and interact on a social basis.”  She went on to explain that the program is staffed by volunteers from the Parish, retired teachers and students from Anna Maria College, Holy Cross College, Worcester Academy and Mass College of Pharmacy.

The program is run five days a week during the school year and observes the same holidays and vacation schedule as the Worcester Public schools.  Daily, the children have a snack, playtime, homework assistance followed by 20 minutes of reading.  “Fun Friday” is a “big hit-no homework” according to Sr. Pat.  The children are free to engage in basketball, kick ball, board games and arts and crafts. Sr. Pat added that “even in the dead of winter, they look forward to popsicles.”  In the past 3 years, Sr. Pat and her dedicated volunteers have assisted over 100 students.

Besides directing the After – School program, Sr. Pat also runs the “St. John’s / Ascension Campus Clothing Center.”  In 2013, Sr. Pat agreed to move St. John’s clothing donations from a bay in the garage on Temple Street to the church building at Ascension at 44 Vernon Street.  Fr. Madden says that Sr. Pat’s “commitment and the new space have made the Clothing Center a far superior situation than what we had here.”  Assisted by a small group of volunteers, the Clothing Center opened that year just in time for back to school shopping.


The St. John’s Clothing Center is run out of the former Ascension church. Pews gone, altar disassembled … but look up and you see this …

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings just before 10 a.m., you will find a line of people waiting to be served at the Clothing Center.  In a store- like environment, clients are free to shop for themselves and their families.  Besides clothing, household items, blankets, sheets, towels, children’s toys, sneakers, shoes and toiletries are available to those most in need.

The inventory, according to Sr. Pat, is based on the donations received. Donations of clean, usable items are gratefully accepted and may be dropped off at the Clothing Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, the operational hours of the Center.  Items are free to the clients and once in a while a client will come in and donate items they no longer need such as household items or toys.
Sr. Pat has said that in 2 ½ years she has “met so many grateful people.  Some are free to share their stories.  If I had a nickel for every “Thank you for doing this” and “God” Bless You,” I believe I would be a rich woman – but what they don’t realize is that I have been enriched for having met them.”
In addition to the After School Program and the Clothing Center, there are AA or NA meetings in the hall on Monday, Wednesday Thursday Saturday and Sunday.  Hector Reyes House’s Karate Class meets on Wednesday morning.  WRAP’s youth program uses the hall on Saturday afternoons.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church holds services on Sunday mornings.  A Christian Coffeehouse is held on the third Saturday of the month in the evening.

Fr. Madden sums it up beautifully. “All of us at St. John’s, particularly those who have joined us from Ascension are thrilled with everything that is happening at the campus.  We are grateful to God for sending us Sr. Pat and to have the blessing of trying to help the Vernon Hill/ Union Hill neighborhood and the City.  I am sure that God has more planned for us and I look forward to future ministry in the neighborhood.”
God has truly closed a door and opened up a window right here in Worcester on Vernon Hill!

Ascension Coffee House

The Ascension Campus Coffeehouse began in September 2013 at the St. John’s Parish –  Ascension Campus located at 44 Vernon Street.  According to Joseph Tomlinson, Organizer, it “has been in God’s graces since the beginning, thanks to Fr. Madden’s blessings.”

The Coffee House is open on the 3rd Saturday evening of each month.  It attracts musicians from many of the area churches and schools such Sacred Heart – St. Catherine of Sweden Parish on Cambridge Street and St. John’s High in Shrewsbury. Brian Tomlinson, a parishioner at St. John’s and the son of Joe and Carmen Tomlinson, has shared his musical talents and composing abilities many times to a very receptive audience.

The evening starts by opening the doors of the church building at 6:30 p.m. to allow folks to get there and enjoy coffee and.  At 7 p.m. they begin the Praise and Worship with an optional group prayer and then the live worship music begins.  On most evening, they have multiple musicians play for a couple of hours.  The program closes with a Thanksgiving Prayer.
In January of this year, a pot luck supper was held at the Parish Center and was followed by a special program upstairs.  The evening remembered Jennifer, the niece and God daughter of a parishioner.  The aunt made her singing debut that night as a special tribute to her niece.

All ages are welcomed at the Coffeehouse.  There is free admission.  Donations are voluntary and the money and canned goods go to programs at St. John’s and Be Like Brit.

For more information about the Coffeehouse, please contact Joseph Tomlinson @ (508) 254-9909  if you are interested in playing music or have another gift you would like to share.

Thanks to all our Friends and Family who have been supportive in our mission to worship and praise with live, prayerful Music.


Ethiopian Church

On Saturday February 28, of this year, the Worcester Kidane Meheret Orthodox Tewahedo Christian Church had their yearly celebration in honor of the “Mother Covenant of Mercy. ‘also known as “Kidist Kidane Meheret.”

Mesfin Beshir who is very active in assisting and advocating for the Ethiopian community in Worcester  and is a member of the church and also is acting as a liaison and public relations person, had an idea.  His children had attended the St. John’s / Ascension Campus After-School Program. He had gotten to know Fr. John Madden. Pastor of St. John’s Church and Sr. Pat Murphy, Director of the After- School program.  Why not have the celebration in the former Ascension Church on Vernon Street?

Mesfin contacted Fr. Madden and he in turn contacted the Diocese of Worcester.  Fr. Madden got the O.K. and Mesfin and other church members began the cleaning and polishing in the church.  The Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in the United States came in from New York. There was a choir arriving from Boston.  People attended from Worcester, Boston, Leominster, Fitchburg and Framingham .

The main part of the celebration  included  praying, singing, preaching and the presence of the Ark of the Covenant and took place between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.  The service was followed by a meal in the adjoining parish center.

Mesfin Beshir and his church members are very grateful for the use of the St. John’s- Ascension Campus.  and to Fr. Madden who  Mesfin describes as a “very wonderful and kind and gentle priest.  Easy to talk to and makes people humble.”

Mike Germain: more than a pretty face!

By Rosalie Tirella

Earlier we told you about former Worcester City Councilor Mike Germain’s animal rights-eousness! He urged fellow Worcesterites last week to skip, as he does, the traveling zoo that came to our city.

But did you know Mike Germain feeds the poor and the homeless? That’s right!  Three times a week Mike, along with his friends at Ralph’s Tavern on Shrewsbury Street, cook up huge amounts of food and deliver trays of it to the Saint John’s Church soup kitchen on nearby Temple Street.  There, Father Madden and kitchen workers serve it at lunch time to the scores of hungry people who come to the church for a hot, nutritious meal (sometimes their only one for the day) and some groceries (the church’s relatively new food building also houses a huge food pantry as well as a cafeteria).


Here’s Mike (right) and Scot Bove just after they and fellow volunteers cooked the mega lunch (all on their dime) and right before heading out to deliver the food to Saint John’s. Mike does this THREE TIMES A WEEK. Has been doing this! Quietly. Purposefully. Just the way Jesus would have liked it. He doesn’t crow about his community service, doesn’t invite the TV cameras or newspaper columnists to give him free publicity. His pal had to take me to the side and say: LOOK! YOU GOTTA SEE WHAT MIKE’S BEEN UP TO! A real cutie, Mike just blushed as I snapped photos. AND HE DIDN’T TOOT HIS HORN. Refreshing!

On the flip side: The Worcester City Council lost a really GOOD person when it lost Mike Germain. Mike, with his shy, easy going ways, worked with and helped a lot of people while he was on the council . He was great at one on one constituent service! He always made the calls or visits on your behalf! Always tried to connect folks with each other. But City Councilor Germain had a no-fuss, no-muss style – never a smart move for a politician. POLITICIANS NEED TO MAKE NOISE.  Mike’s kinda quiet. As a Woo City Councilor, he never pontificated on the Council floor on Tuesday nights or demagogued an issue in any way. He never hogged credit, or threw a hissy fit, or played mad and shook his fist at the video cameras. Nope. Mike Germain was a cute, easy going guy, and voters thought his affable style meant he didn’t care. Or that he was dumb. The way society underestimates cute/pretty women. But as a Worcester city councilor, Mike, who graduated from Holy Cross college and is well spoken and is a very sharp writer, did his job.

Did I mention he’s adopted two homeless dogs, a homeless cat, a homeless parrot and some fishies that needed a place to swim around in?

It seems like Worcester voters always go for the stupid, loud mouths (Jordon Levy) or the perennial cheapskates peddling their nut-job conspiracy theories (Worcester City Councilors Konnie Lukes and Michael Gaffney) – politicians  who never look at things in new, creative ways. But they know how to grab your attention. … And that’s all that matters in this town.