How do we create peace and justice through service? This month our We Conspire series honors Black History Month by exploring ways to show solidarity with the most vulnerable. Sister Mary Angela Parkins, the president and CEO of St. Felix Pantry, shares with us how service to others can be a catalyst for hope and equity.
“I was living in Rio Rancho with an abusive alcoholic spouse. We had no money for food and most money went to alcohol & drugs. St. Felix Pantry fed me and my burden of not having enough diminished. Words cannot express my gratitude. I could not find a job in my degreed area and now I am successful with the help of others. I appreciate all you do for those in need including myself. You were there for me in a way no one could be. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God help all involved with running this organization.” — A note from a St. Felix Pantry recipient
For the Felician Sisters, Justice and Peace are core values that need to be exercised together to be alive. Justice and Peace go together like beans and rice to create a symbiotic, complete, and sustainable world. Without prayers for our most vulnerable children, elderly, and homeless, our humanity is not linked together. Beans and rice, together, create a complete protein. Justice and Peace, together, create hope and equity. The common good of all mankind was brought together when our Lord died on the Cross and rose from the dead.
There we see another link, the apex of links – the Cross and the Resurrection. In my own life, service to the poor brings my prayer into action. Seeing the face of our Lord in every person in every situation – those needing help, volunteers serving next to me, at a Board of Trustees meeting, at a public event – elevates everything into a context of hope. When we do not have love for our country, those who serve, those who are served, we do not have peace. When we do not have peace, how can we have proper justice?
“We can stay away from others, or we can listen and serve others, multiplying ourselves by prayer and service – and love so many more in this way.” —Sister Mary Angela Parkins
Through actively listening to one another, praying for all, and giving action and energy to something you believe in we can promote hope and equity. There is a saying – “How do you eat an elephant?” the answer is, “one bite at a time.” At St. Felix Pantry, we can receive 1,000 pounds of pinto beans. We cannot serve one family 1,000 pounds of beans, so our volunteers break that one large gift into 500 gifts. Our one life is like this. We can stay away from others, like one ton of beans, or we can listen and serve others, multiplying ourselves by prayer and service – and love so many more in this way.
“Every human being has needs and every human being has the capability to give.” —Sister Mary Angela Parkins
Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska, foundress of the Felician Sisters, has a saying: “To love is to give.” Some of us cannot give money or food because of our need. Some of us cannot give physical service because of our adverse health conditions. But all of us can give prayer. All of us can give a patient ear to listen. All of us can practice justice and peace. Just as there are different types of need, there are different types of giving. Every human being has needs and every human being has the capability to give.
Reflect with Us
What are new ways you can begin to serve others—particularly the most vulnerable—in your community? Share your reflection with us.
Sister Mary Angela Parkins, in the order of the Felician Sisters, has been the President and CEO of St. Felix Pantry since 2017. Every day, Sister wakes up to meet new challenges and she says that one of the most important things is to always be available, because “the poor never have a day off and neither should we.”
We Conspire is a series from the Center for Action and Contemplation featuring wisdom and stories from the growing Christian contemplative movement. Sign up for the monthly email series and receive a free invitation to practice each month.