Florida Oblate Associates, Volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity

Story By Yvette Fuentes and John Venezia, Oblate Associates at St. Stephen’s Parish in Miramar, Florida

On Saturday, August 17 and August 24, 2013, members of the Oblate Associates of Mary Immaculate in Miramar, Florida, volunteered their time to assist the Missionaries of Charity in Miami with their ministry to serve the “poorest of the poor”. Volunteering this month were Charlie Fitch, Yvette Fuentes, Matthew Glynn, Carol Huff-Gacitua, Jennifer Ramlogan, Antonella Skinner, and John Venezia. 

The Missionary Sisters have been in Miami since 1980 when Mother Teresa opened a branch of her community in the city.  Although the shelter is located just a few blocks from the University of Miami’s Medical Campus and Miami’s most important medical facilities, the shelter is also located in Miami’s “Inner City”, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Every morning (except Thursdays) the Sisters run a soup kitchen feeding between 200-300 people, mostly homeless, some with addiction problems. In the evenings, the Sisters open their shelter for homeless women and their children. The Sisters live in their humble convent, located directly across the street from the shelter. 

Group photo of St. Stephen's Oblate Associates

The Oblate Associates arrived early to attend 7:00 AM mass with the Sisters in their small chapel. After mass, the Associates began their volunteer ministry, working along with the Sisters until about 12 Noon. Associates mopped floors, dusted the rooms, swept the dining areas and cleaned the bathrooms and windows as needed.  Associates also helped to prepare the day’s meal in the kitchen area and assisted in the serving line. Also assisting were volunteers from Catholic university groups and from other parishes within the Archdiocese of Miami, many of whom help the Sisters on a regular basis. 

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate served St. Stephen’s Parish from 1968-2013. They left Florida at the end of June 2013, and turned the parish over to the Archdiocese of Miami. However, the Oblate Associates remain active at St. Stephen’s, carrying on the OMI charism within the Church and beyond through volunteer work such as this ministry with the Missionaries of Charity. They pledge to return again to the shelter to continue their apostolic work with the poor and most abandoned, helping the Sisters in their labor of love and sharing the teachings of St. Eugene de Mazenod to all those that they encounter. What an amazing experience!{jcomments on}