In downtown Oklahoma City, Sister Barbara Joseph Foley, a Carmelite nun, opened a pantry for the homeless in March 2006. From that time the pantry has continued to serve more than 600 people a month with food and clothing. More than that, the facility and volunteers there serve with respect and compassion to every person who enters the doors.
While many support the work of “Sister BJ,” as she is called, a “Just Faith” group at the Cathedral parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in MidTown initiated parish participation in support of the program from early in the ministry’s history. The pantry subsequently became a monthly focus of the parish’s donations. For the past two years the Cathedral parish has donated everything from water to socks and many items in-between.
Sister Barbara Joseph Foley has continued to count on the goodness of many from the Cathedral and others around MidTown each month since she began this work.
Earlier this year, the staff at Our Lady’s Cathedral nominated Sister Barbara Joseph for the 2009 CNN Heroes Award -- “Protecting the Powerless.” On Thursday, November 12 Our Lady’s Cathedral will host a banquet to honor Sister Barbara Joseph and to support Sr. BJ’s Pantry for the Homeless.
Jari Askins, Lt. Governor of the State of Oklahoma, will be the guest speaker, and there will be a simple dinner to share. The goal of this evening while honoring Sister is to help insure the continued success of her programs. All are invited to join the Cathedral’s Connor Center to honor Sister Barbara Joseph and to support the future of this ministry.
A donation of $2,500 to the event would include dinner and a reserved table for eight; at $1000, a donor would get dinner and reserved seats for four, while a $500 gift includes dinner and reserved seats for two. General seating for the fundraising event is $65.
To support the event, send checks to: Our Lady’s Cathedral, 3214 N Lake Ave, Oklahoma City OK 73118-5645. Alternatively, or for contributions by credit card, the form accompanying this story may be used. For questions, telephone 405-525-2349.
Debbie Eischen Brown, who is helping to organize the event, told The City Sentinel, “This ministry is very impressive as her philosophy is that the homeless need more than items, they need human interaction. For this reason, Sister has volunteers who not only provide lunch bags, clothing items and so forth from Sister BJ’s Pantry, but they also sit and drink coffee, entering into the lives of those they serve.
Sister Barbara Joseph herself explains, “Our Mission is that of being of immediate but effective service to the homeless in all their needs, material and spiritual, until they can find some others who can help them in a better and more lasting way.”
Note: Managing Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.