Home Diocesan News St. Vincent de Paul opens new dining hall at Youngstown SS. Cyril and Methodius
St. Vincent de Paul opens new dining hall at Youngstown SS. Cyril and Methodius Print E-mail
Written by Pete Sheehan   
Friday, 06 October 2017 14:12

YOUNGSTOWN – After a period of its own “homelessness,” the St. Vincent de Paul Society had a grand opening Sept. 27 for its new home – SS. Cyril and Methodius Church here.

“After worship, the most important thing we do is serve the needy,” said Father John Jerek, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish (which includes SS. Cyril and Methodius Church), in blessing the space in the church’s basement for the new dining hall for the society’s Mahoning County District.

The cafeteria of the former SS. Cyril and Methodius School has been adapted to serve as the dining hall for St. Vincent de Paul’s effort to serve lunch to the homeless, hungry, working poor, and others five days a week. In addition, parishioners of St. Michael the Archangel in Canfield serve breakfast on Saturdays.
“Without a commitment to serving those in need,” Father Jerek continued, “it is merely ‘empty worship.’”

Father Jerek also concelebrated a Mass in the church above, along with Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., and Msgr. Robert Siffrin, diocesan vicar general, before the dining hall dedication. An informal reception followed in the dining hall.

About 70 people, mostly members and volunteers from various St. Vincent de Paul parish conferences, gathered for the Mass and the dedication. The Mahoning division reached an agreement earlier this year with Our Lady of Sorrows to acquire the use of the former school cafeteria.

The new facility is located just north of downtown Youngstown between Wood Street and Rayen Avenue and across the street from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Basilica/St. Anthony of Padua Parish, where the St. Vincent de Paul’s food pantry is located.

“That’s going to work well for us,” said Jessica Robinson, executive director of the society’s Mahoning district, for coordinating assistance.

The dining hall relocated from the society’s headquarters on Front Street downtown here Aug. 21 due to structural problems with the building, said Norm Scarazzo, president of the St. Vincent de Paul conference at St. Charles Borromeo Parish here and a member of the society’s Mahoning district’s board.

In fact, for a couple of months, the society was unable to use the dining hall and served meals under a tent in the parking lot across the street, said Kathleen Rothman, president of the St. Vincent de Paul at St. Patrick Parish, Youngstown, secretary for the Mahoning district, and a member of the board. “We didn’t miss a single day of serving.”

When structural problems first became apparent late last year, the board formed an ad hoc committee, which Scarazzo headed and which included someone in real estate and other areas of expertise helpful for exploring their options. Salvatoran Father Dave Bergner, who retired in June as diocesan vicar for social concerns, also joined the committee.

“We considered many options,” including repairing the Front Street building, which the society has owned for about 30 years, but the cost proved prohibitive, Scarazzo explained. The committee consulted with the City of Youngstown and contacted other non-profit and faith-related institutions.

Father Bergner contacted Father Jerek to discuss the prospect of using the former school cafeteria in the SS. Cyril and Methodius basement, Scarazzo said, and with Father Jerek’s encouragement, the committee took a look.

“It was a really well-maintained facility,” said Rothman, who also served on the ad hoc committee.

The location was an asset because it is near downtown, Scarazzo said, but also near the East Side of Youngstown as well as Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College, and Choffin Career and Technical Center.

When the society met with the Our Lady of Sorrows Parish Council, they encountered nearly unanimous support for their efforts to assist the poor, Scarazzo said.

“They welcomed us with not only open arms but open hearts,” Rothman said, with the parish offering generous terms for the use of the facility. “And we have gotten unanimously positive reviews from the people who come here.”

The society has invested $30,000 in the facility, Scarazzo said, and moved much of its equipment up from Front Street.

“We’re eventually moving the office up here, too,” Robinson said.

Scarazzo also pointed to photos on all the  walls in the hall, some taken as early as 1915, from the days that the building was part of SS. Cyril and Methodius School – in appreciation of the parish’s and school’s legacy.

“Two of our St. Vincent de Paul Society members at St. Charles are graduates of the school,” Scarazzo said. “They were excited that we were going to be here.”


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