Two communities in Chicago count their blessings every year and share them with those in need. Like most American urban centers, being in a good neighborhood actually means that right around the corner from you there might be someone in need. This is the case with the Annunciation Cathedral and St. George Greek Orthodox Church. Despite being in the posh Gold Coast and Lincoln Park, respectively, numerous low income areas are only blocks away from the two churches.
An annual tradition, the two communities come together on a day intended to be spent with family, to give selflessly of their time and cooking talents. Cooking takes place all week and on Thanksgiving Day, the community center of the Annunciation Cathedral is opened to the public, with an open invitation to the city’s poor, homeless and lonely.
Fr. Chrysanthos Kerkeres of St. George sees the ministry as vital to the teachings of Christ and his own calling as a priest.
“We cook and feed and serve, with no questions asked,” Fr. Chris told the Pappas Post. “Everyone of these people has a story and every one of these people deserves the same comfort and compassion that we all deserve.”
This year, the food line was staffed by young and old members of St. George and Annunciation, including a surprise visitor who served mashed potatoes to all who passed through the foo line, the 88-year-old Metropolitan Iakovos, head of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos also pointed out that this ministry of feeding and clothing the poor extends beyond the Thanksgiving holiday. It takes place throughout the year the second and fourth Tuesday of every month when various chapters of the churches’ ladies auxiliary, the Philoptochos Society, visit the Cathedral and feed and cloth the needy.
“Our calling as Greek Orthodox Christians isn’t a one-day affair, but a year-round effort to assist the less fortunate,” the Bishop said, while praising the efforts of the two communities who serve as models for other communities in the region.
Fr. Stamatis Sfikas, Dean at Chicago’s Annunciation Cathedral also called the ministry vital.
“We are so blessed to be the host parish for the Metropolis of Chicago’s ‘Feed the Hungry’ program, not only on Thanksgiving, but twice per month throughout the year. To see all of our people working together, across parishes, to fulfill Christ’s commandment of participating in almsgiving, is truly a humbling experience. Our Thanksgiving feast especially highlights the good work our Orthodox people continue to do for others, and it is truly an honor to be able to serve those in need. Their struggle, although outward in appearance, continually reminds us of the daily struggles we all face as one people. We hope that by providing this ministry, we can continue to grow Christ’s love in both our churches and throughout our beautiful city of Chicago.”