Inaugural Presentation of Macrina and Basil Award

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NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA–The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great presented the Macrina and Basil Award for Gratitude to Caring for Friends on December 23, 2021. The Macrina and Basil Award is given to organizations and individuals whose outstanding generosity supports the mission and work of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great, Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province. Caring for Friends has been a crucial partner of the newly formed St. Basil Support Ministry since its inception in December 2020.

Rita Ungaro-Schiavone founded Aid for Friends in 1974, rebranded in 2019 as Caring for Friends. The organization provides “food and friendship” to the homebound, seniors, veterans, and others. This synthesis of corporal and spiritual nourishment is very important for understanding human nature: companionship is as essential for humans as food. This idea matches perfectly with the Sisters’ latest initiative which was intentionally called a “Support Ministry” rather than a food pantry to convey the Basilian care for both body and soul.

Week after week, Caring for Friends supplies a wide array of foods to faith-based organizations and community non-profits for distribution throughout Philadelphia’s five-county metropolitan region. These include perishable and shelf-stable items as well as ready-to-heat meals and “blessing bags” (small plastic bags with snacks). Volunteers also make weekly home visits to client friends. All of this is done at no cost.

Caring for Friends was one of the first collaborators with the St. Basil Support Ministry when it began one year ago, and it has proven to be one of the most important. The food provided has helped keep things going especially during more challenging weeks.

Sister Joann Sosler, Superior of the Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province, presented the award. “We are so thankful to Caring for Friends for your tireless dedication and spirit of charity. It is on account of your help that the St. Basil Support Ministry has been able to reach so many,” remarked Sister Joann.

Caring for Friends is the inaugural recipient of the Macrina and Basil Award for Gratitude, which is named for the Sisters’ founders. St. Basil the Great himself started a social ministry in 4th century Asia Minor (modern Turkey), called the Basileiad. The Basileiad offered food, healthcare, and more to anyone in need and was widely recognized for its importance–so much so that the Roman Empire even funded the ministry.

St. Basil Support Ministry distributes food on Fridays, 10 AM – 12 PM. For more information contact Sister Teodora Kopyn, OSBM at (215) 429-0560 or (215) 379-3998.

Article and Photo – Sean McLaughlin

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