By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Gala parties are always great fun —food, music, conversation and people. And when the party is to spotlights our fellows in need, the fun takes on a new purpose: opening hearts for the hungry.
Morning Glory Ministries of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Catholic Charities, hosted their third annual gala, a Heart for the Hungry, at the Catholic Center Nov. 18. Morning Glory Ministries connects people to services to help better their lives and let them know they matter.
According to Harvester’s Food Network, one in seven people is food insecure; in Jackson County alone there are at least 126,620 food insecure people. Food insecurity means a person or a household may have food today, but they don’t know if there will be food tomorrow or enough food for everyone in the household. Can you imagine not knowing if there will be food on the table tomorrow for you or your family?
Karen Miller, director of Morning Glory Ministries, put it bluntly: Kansas City has a real problem —the homeless. There are a lot of people out there who don’t care about the homeless, but the homeless are people, God’s children, too. She said that Morning Glory Ministries has helped more than 5,000 people in need this year, with food, emergency assistance, bus passes, prescription assistance, hygiene items and clothing, counseling, and hope.
As the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis begins, Morning Glory Ministries is putting mercy to work every day, she said. “You’re not going to have hope,” Miller said, “if someone doesn’t extend mercy to you. Mercy is living the words of Jesus, ‘Whatever you do for the least of your brothers and sisters, you do for me.’ Our guests, these who come to us for help and hope, we see as family.”
Ticket sales, raffles and a silent auction raised $34,000 before expenses for the ministry. More tickets were sold than last year and one of the raffles, Feast with the Priests, a meal cooked by Fathers Joseph Powers and Kenneth Riley, sold hundreds of tickets.
A painting of Pope Francis done by local artist Michael Brown sold for $225, and other items helped raise the total from the silent auction to $3,070.
Morning Glory Ministries is aided by volunteers from parishes, businesses, schools and organizations, who serve meals, provide food treats for Morning Glory Cafe guests, assist with other services or donate time, talent or treasure.
There was a musical tribute to Morning Glory Ministries by several of the volunteers and a video by Michael Cory, a young man who spent a lot of time volunteering at the Morning Glory Cafe with his mother. In the video, people who have received help and hope spoke of the ministries’ “awesomeness.” One guest said, “They smile. They treat you like a human being; that means la lot to me.”
Besides the thousands of people lovingly fed breakfast four days a week by volunteers under the direction of Steve Bruns, and a lunch and to go meal on weekends, besides the emergency assistance center, a new ministry that Miller is very proud of is St. Francis of Assisi Place, a short term-tenancy, 2-bedroom apartment. The transitional housing will be rented to “guests who rise up,” people who are working to get back on their feet, have a way of paying the rent while saving up for a deposit on a longer term housing arrangement. The first two tenants came to the gala for a while, and Miller introduced them to the gala guests. Both men mingled with those in attendance, and helped some of the staff of Twenty 20 Restaurant, caterers of the event, replenish the tables with food and other tasks.
Miller said, “You have to believe these pieces are important — compassion, a lack of judgmental-ness and equality — and show it. Beautiful things happen every day. Our guests, both at the gala and those who come to us for assistance, feel it and love it. This is not my ministry; this is not the Cathedral’s or Catholic Charities’ ministry. This is God’s work.”
The evening was successful in raising awareness of the plight of so many individuals and families, and raising funds to alleviate hunger.
To learn more about Morning Glory Ministries, visit www.morningglorycares.org.