ABOVE featured photo: Pictured front and center are Kelly Wilkes, age 2, with her mother, Jean Wilkes, holding her hand and Tom Wilkes, center, walking towards his wife. Several parishioners are carrying paper bags with food donations for the poor in our community. Photo courtesy of the Mario Mesa Photo Archives.
Almsgiving is a Lenten tradition at Saint James Catholic Cathedral in downtown Orlando.
From a $90,000 a year thrift store for the poor to soup and sandwiches for the hungry, St. James Cathedral’s history of community giving is dedicated to serving the needy in our area. As an Orlando organization tithing 10% of their collection, St. James financially supports such worthwhile institutions as Apopka Family Learning Center, B.E.T.A. Center, Coalition for the Homeless, Covenant House of Central Florida, Fresh Start, Health Care Center of the Homeless, iDignity, JMJ Life Center, Morning Star School, Russell Home for Atypical Children and more.
The legacy of community building continues as 2,789 people in Orlando were assisted by St. James through St. Vincent de Paul donations last year. Learn more about the history of community organizations in the Orlando area and the contributions made to the lives of our citizens in this interview.
In this excerpt from an oral history interview at St. James Cathedral on August 15, 2011, Frank and Mary Jane Sevick highlight the origins and outreach of a few St. James community activities such as offering soup and sandwiches to those hungry at lunchtime which grew into the Daily Bread and the development of the Christian Service Center. They recall St. James parishioners such as Kathy Hummel, one of the founding members of B.E.T.A., Beverly Gawlick, who started Outreach Love, Dick Rupp, who assisted with the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Parramore, and St. James Pastor Father David Page, who worked diligently with the downtown community to establish the Christian Service Center.
ABOVE: 1984 photo of Bishop Grady receiving food for the poor at the St. James Cathedral Thanksgiving Day Mass.
ABOVE: Bishop Grady and Father David Page receive food for the poor from parishioners of all ages during Thanksgiving Mass, 1984, at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando. Father David Page, Pastor of St. James Cathedral from 1972-1985, initiated the practice of St. James tithing as an organization. Since July of 1983, St. James Cathedral has shared a tenth of its collected income with the poor and worthwhile institutions in our community.
St. James Cathedral has a long history of helping those in need in our community.
During the 1973-74 recession years, the parishioners of St. James prepared food packs to give to the unemployed and prepared hot meals twice a week which were served on the patio.
Eventually the numbers became so great Father Page, the pastor of St. James, asked the Christian Service Center to take over the feeding program which became known as Daily Bread.
Excerpt from 40 Years of Helping Those in Need by Dan Wallace, Revelations August 2011, a history of Daily Bread and the Christian Service Center started by St. James Cathedral in downtown Orlando: “One year for Lent, a woman from St. James Cathedral decided to make sandwiches for the needy in the area and brought them to the church to hand out in the parking lot at lunchtime. As Robert Stuart, the Christian Service Center’s current Executive Director remarks, “I’m sure the people of St. James when they started feeding the hungry all those years ago had no idea that their ministry would grow into a program that has served over 3.3 million meals today!”
ABOVE: Photo of Bishop Thomas Grady and Father David Page receiving gifts from Saint James parishioners for the poor in our community.
ABOVE: Photo of Father David Page and parishioners at Saint James Cathedral in downtown Orlando collecting food for the poor in our community.