One of the first members of clergy Saint Theodora met upon arriving in Indiana in 1840 was a young priest, about the age of 28, who was dressed in rags. “So Extreme was his poverty and so complete his destitution, that I shall run the risk of being accused of exaggeration in describing it,” said St Theodora.
This level of poverty extended to the cathedral, which was in ruins, and St. Mary-of-the-Woods, where the local parish priest resided in a meager cabin and who lived on coffee, potatoes, and bacon.
St Theodora later experienced her own hardships. On several occasions the sisters were left with only a handful of potatoes to share between them. Such scarcity in America was not something the sisters anticipated. When they were able to build a surplus, they reached out to assist neighbors who had less.
More than a century and a half later, 1 in 7 Americans continue to struggle with hunger, according to the organization, Feeding America. In 2015, 42.2 million people faced hunger in the U.S. (Source: USDA). More than 13 million children rely on food banks for assistance, and children are at greatest risk during the summer months when they are unable to access subsidized food in school.
Jesus said that we are to share what we have, as the sisters did. Jesus instructed, “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me’” (Matthew 25:41-43).