Susan Mackey Award Recipient
Susan Mackey, Camden Cathedral Parish’s Outreach Coordinator, was honored by Holy Name of Camden Ministries last Tuesday night. An umbrella agency for Catholic ministry in North Camden, Holy Name of Camden Ministries awarded Susan with the “Reaching Out To Those In Need” award.
When the Oblates arrived at the Cathedral in downtown Camden in August 2008, we began giving sandwiches to people who came to the door saying they were hungry. Sandwiches and canned food were given when people asked for money, “bus fare”, or any wide range of other requests they brought to the rectory door. We believe that food is an uncomplicated thing, addressing a basic human need.
It did not take long before this simple charity grew out of control—dozens of people were coming to rectory door, any time of the day, seven days a week. Gradually the service become more focused and the Oblates in coordinated the ministry with that of others serving downtown neighbors. New Visions, a service Lutheran Social Services, has a breakfast that ends at 10:00am and a lunch that begins at 12:30. DeSales Service Works service sandwiches and other food from 10:00am to noon Monday through Friday.
Each weekday, the window where food is distributed is visited by anywhere from 300 to 600 individuals. The number is smaller at the beginning of the month but grows each week because people generally have more resources at the start of each month.
Susan Mackey has guided the growth and thriving of this needed ministry over these five years.
She deserves great credit for making it all work: organizing volunteers, gathering food, and treating guests to her South Philly mix of humor and toughness, also known as “Salesian gentle strength.” Susan leads teams of volunteers along with Cathedral rector, Oblate Matt Hillyard, in getting food to the hungry, lost, and needy who come each weekday.
Neighbors in the food line represent a cross-section of needy in Camden: immigrants getting started in this country, elderly struggling to get by on a limited income, working people able to save a bit of money getting lunch from us, addicts just holding on, and people with no home, no family, no comfort.
Susan leads the service to these sisters and brothers—offering food for their bodies, but also offering kindness and Christian compassion that points to God the Creator, the one who inspires good works and work for justice.
Congratulations to Susan Mackey!