In partnership with Dare to Care, parish finds ‘an exciting labor of love’

Food lines the volunteer-made shelves of the Mustard Seed Food Pantry at St. John Paul II Church, 3539 Goldsmith Lane, on June 20. (Record Photo by Olivia Castlen)

The Mustard Seed Pantry, a new partnership between St. John Paul II Church and Dare to Care, will open to the public on July 13. 

A core team of parishioners pulled the outreach effort together in just a few months.

“We only started this project in March,” said Pattie Filley, the social services director at St. John Paul II, in a recent interview. It’s been “an exciting labor of love. Father Casey (Sanders) has been phenomenal with his support. … I am sure it could not have happened without him.”

Father Sanders, appointed administrator of the parish in January, said the opportunity to open a food pantry presented itself during his first month at St. John Paul II. The team leading the ministry, he said, is “all-in” and “dedicated.”

“Our Lord has had his hand in this,” said Father Sanders in a recent interview. He noted that service to people in poverty has been particularly important to him since he encountered the homeless population in downtown Louisville before he started seminary. The encounter was “pivotal” in his discernment, he said. 

Pattie Filley, social services director

Volunteers from the parish began the food pantry project by cleaning out a storage room formerly used by the parish and school. Volunteers built the shelves and bins to hold the donated items. 

“It’s been a collaborative effort,” said Filley. She added, “Everyone seems to be coming together for this cause. … I’ve never seen something like this before in our parish, and I’ve been here many years.”

Father Sanders said, “The parish response has exceeded my expectations,” noting that on one weekend when volunteers from the parish were requested, more than 50 showed up. 

“Everybody wanted to help,” Filley said.

“Everything fell into place,” said Sally Ernst, a core team member.

Father Casey Sanders, administrator of St. John Paul II Church, spoke with the parish’s new food pantry’s core team on June 20. The core team includes, from left, Sally Ernst, foreground, Mary Ridenour, background, Tarri Becker and Pattie Filley. (Record Photo by Olivia Castlen)

The church has collaborated with other parishes in the area, such as St. Martha and St. Raphael, to gather additional volunteers and donations. Father Sanders hopes they can increase collaboration with other Catholic churches in the area to more efficiently serve people in need. He envisions “collectively assisting” people with other needs, as well, such as housing and clothing.

For Father Sanders, this ministry will “give the people of this community the opportunity to do as Jesus said, … to feed the hungry, to serve the poor” and to serve “with a Catholic heart.” He consecrated the pantry to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 7. 

He also hopes the parish can “use this as an opportunity to gently give witness to Jesus Christ,” adding that to separate the ministry from Jesus Christ “would be to impoverish the poor further, which would be an injustice.”

The pantry will also offer free rosaries, miraculous medals and holy cards for those who wish to take them. The ministry, Father Sanders said, will “provide for the spiritual and the material” needs of those who come, “providing for their earthly banquet as we lead them to their heavenly banquet.” The food pantry will be open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Those interested in getting involved can email Pattie Filley at pfilley@stjpiiparish.com or call 459-4251.

Olivia Castlen
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Olivia Castlen
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