This year World Hunger Day falls on the Feast of Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. Although we all have different talents and qualities in varying degrees, they are to be used in relation to building the Kingdom of God, helping us to draw closer to our true nature as we come ever closer to him. One question we might ask ourselves today is 'how am I using my particular gifts to serve God and serve others? At St George's Cathedral, they have answered this question by putting their faith into action.
“In so much as you did it to the least of your brothers and sisters, you did it to me.”
During the Induction of the Dean of Southwark, Archbishop Wilson indicated that he wanted St George’s Cathedral to be full of missionary disciples of Christ by being a place of welcome, encounter and outreach to everyone. The recent opening of a Community Fridge at St George's is one way in which clergy, staff and volunteers at the Cathedral are witnessing to the Archbishop's vision of putting faith into action at a time of need for great spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
The Saints cry out at St. George’s Cathedral for us to reach out to the homeless and those trapped in food poverty - we can no longer sit and do nothing - we have to do something! The shrines of Saints Francesca Cabrini and Oscar Romero are venerated in our hallowed walls, and the Missionaries of Charity have a hostel for the homeless and daily soup kitchen on St George’s Road, literally a few hundred metres from the West Door. The Sisters have been practising the spiritual and corporal works of mercy since St Teresa of Calcutta first brought her Missionaries in the early 1990’s, demonstrating the compassion of Jesus through the act of offering a simple meal and listening ear.
As we approach the 175th anniversary of the opening of the Mother Church of our Archdiocese on 4th July, we continue to witness the needs of many, like the founder of our Cathedral, Provost Thomas Doyle. Once more in its long history, St George’s heeds the call of the poor who not only come in search of bread, but also for the wellspring of Christian care and compassion, enough to satisfy their inner thirst, identified so succinctly by St. Teresa of Calcutta.
In partnership with the local Oasis Baptist Community, on 12th May 2023, the Amigo Hall opened its doors to the homeless and those struggling to make ends meet, just a few metres from the shrines of the saints and heroes of the modern-day era.
Every Friday, Amigo Hall hosts a Breakfast Club between 10 am and 11.45 am, During that time, a team of volunteers sets up the Community Fridge, which opens from 12 noon to 3 pm.
So far more than 160 people have enjoyed a much-needed warm welcome, meal and provisions to see them through the next few days. The Community Fridge provides three days' worth of nutritionally balanced emergency food, from fresh fruit and vegetables to bread, snacks, tinned goods and refrigerated items.
St Francesca Cabrini wrote words that are relevant for our time as they were for her own generation,
‘Today, love must not be hidden… it must be living, active and true’.
Her example of faith lived in action inspires the work of the many volunteers who serve as well as distribute food donated by local supermarkets and charitable organisations which would otherwise end up as landfill. That same living and active love energised St. Francesca Cabrini and her sisters over a century ago, as they set up networks of support in the slums of Chicago and New York.
In 2020-21 Waterloo Food Bank distributed 39,425 emergency food packs. During the same year, 388 people were seen sleeping rough in Southwark. Food prices are forecast to rise by over a quarter in the coming months, and so we are urgently called to respond in helping our brothers and sisters.
St Oscar Romero offers reassurance in our small effort to reach out to the poor in the name of Christ: he once said:
“We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.”
St Mother Teresa of Calcutta also remarked,
"There are many in the world dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love…..There’s a hunger for love as there is a hunger for God".
The Community Fridge Food Hub enables the Cathedral to be an authentic centre of mission to welcome, to encounter and to give outreach to hungry souls and empty stomachs. We know we must do something, and do it well, in the name of Christ and His Church.
As down-to-earth people of faith, Saints Francesca Cabrini, Oscar Romero, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta appealed to others to play their part in responding to Christ in the poor and needy. We can all do something, however great or small, by donating non-perishable food items and/or toiletries, at any local Food Bank, or indeed, to the Cathedral Community Fridge. The only request of the Community Fridge organisers is that items are non-perishable i.e. soup tins or dried pasta, and well within the 'best-by' date.
Fr Michael Branch, the Dean of St George's Cathedral, explained:
"We are grateful to God for giving us this mission to be more, and do more, and as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, to serve those who need our human and spiritual care."
Assisting the Cathedral Community Fridge
- If you would like to donate items to the Cathedral Community Fridge, non-perishable items can be left in the relevant box at the back of the Cathedral.
- If you wish to make a financial donation, or volunteer your time, please contact the Dean's Office: Tel 020 7928 5256 or email email@example.com
Inspired to set up your own Parish Food Hub?
If you have been inspired by the St George's Cathedral Community Fridge and would like to explore the idea of setting up a Food Hub through your parish, please speak to a member of staff at Caritas Southwark, This new diocesan commission is focused on bringing tangible assistance, alongside hope and solidarity for the disadvantaged, as well as those experiencing poverty or discrimination. It is concentrating its efforts on four key areas that have been identified as being of the greatest need in Southwark. One of these areas is Poverty Relief Programmes and Food Bank Support.