CROWN POINT — “I used to be hungry and also you gave me one thing to eat. I used to be a stranger and also you welcomed me in.”
The spirit behind that biblical message was not misplaced amongst volunteers and diners at Sts. Peter and Paul Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral Thursday for its annual Thanksgiving meal.
Whereas some visitors had been awaiting associates to affix them, others invited strangers to take a seat at their desk.
Lindsay Magnuson and Mary Luczak, had been each attending their second SSPP vacation meal. “We love the whole lot about this,” Magnuson stated. “It’s unbelievable and joyful.”
Luczak added, “It’s wholesome and there’s a pleasant assortment of meals.”
Magnuson additionally famous, “In the event you’re alone, come to us. This isn’t fancy, and you may come as you might be. Nobody must be alone on the holidays.”
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Historically, a member of the cathedral donates the meal, and this yr Frank and Lily Cooper and their son Gerald supplied dinner, together with 12 turkeys. Additionally served had been ham, stuffing, mashed and cooked potatoes, green-bean casserole, cauliflower and cheese, carrots, candy corn and peas, rolls and three kinds of pies.
Donating the turkey and trimmings, Frank Cooper joked, “appeared like a good suggestion on the time.”
Lilly took a extra serous method, saying, “We felt it was our time to donate. Whoever comes, they’re welcome.”
Frank added, “We do not know how many individuals are going to return. In the event that they’re hungry, they will come right here.”
The Coopers have been SSPP members for 27 years. The meal was open to church members and the neighborhood.
The Rev. Georgij Gligorov, one in all two monks serving the cathedral, recalled the meal beginning seven years earlier, when he arrived in 2015. Somebody, he stated, had the concept for the vacation dinner.
“We didn’t understand how it might occur,” Gligoro stated. “Individuals often wish to spend the vacations at dwelling. “
The thought, the priest stated, was to allow folks to “have a good time the vacation collectively, and we’re making an attempt to protect the custom after COVID.”
The priest estimated 100 diners would arrive. Some, like Magnuson and Luczak, got here early.
Different early birds contains Dean and Yolinda Theis. The Valparaiso couple has attended previous dinners they usually love the meals and fellowship.
“We’re assembly households right here they usually have a terrific time,” Dean stated.
Yolinda added, “Now we have no kids, so I don’t should cook dinner an enormous meal. We discover a place to go. They’re very good right here they usually do all this for us.”
“That is someplace to go,” Dean stated, “and the folks listed here are very pleasant. We’re ready for others who don’t have any place to go for the vacations, both. This provides us an opportunity to get collectively and revel in some firm.”
Gligorov cited different church charities. The SSPP Girls Auxiliary holds an annual trend present that attracts 500 ladies. Proceeds from that occasion go towards combating most cancers and different diseases locally and different medical fields.
The church additionally accepts donations for Christmas, and a few of that cash helps Macedonia.
If any meals was left over, Frank Cooper stated, patrons may take one thing dwelling. Some leftovers went to an space meals pantry.
Rusa Piskuloski, the church’s head cook dinner, has volunteered yearly and this was no exception. She stored busy, directing visitors from the kitchen to the serving tables.
“I get pleasure from the whole lot — the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and greens,” she stated.
As to serving the neighborhood, Piskuloski famous, “It feels good to feed the hungry.”