|August 11, 2014 • VOL. 52, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
| Senior Living & Resources
She sees a need — and feeds it
The liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, on the feast day of St. Bonaventure, included a prayer asking God to help the people "imitate the constant ardor of his charity."
Bakery products filled the back seat. Open the passenger side door and find the cereal.
Welcome to Rose Carroll's food ministry on wheels.
For the past several years, Carroll, a parishioner at St. Bonaventure in Concord is a familiar face at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, where she also put in more than 800 hours as a docent. Her ministry, which twice has been honored with local grants from CRS Rice Bowl to assist in her work of feeding the hungry, is powered by the faith and energy of one woman who not long ago celebrated her 75th birthday.
"I know how to be poor and hungry," she said.
On this Tuesday, as she does several times a week, Carroll works to be sure that others are not.
Some who gathered around her car opened their own trunks and filled them with goods to take to others. Some were bound for St. Callistus Church in El Sobrante.
Another was headed to a gas station off MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland.
Some of those who met with her had just been to Mass at the Cathedral, and needed a little bit of food to get them through a temporary shortage.
Her "Here's some of those oranges you like" was met with a smile from the recipient. Rose knows. Rose remembers.
What food was left — and there was plenty — was heading back toward Concord, with Carroll.
The woman many call "Sister Rose" is feeding 45 people.
"Most of them are seniors," said Carroll. "Those are the people who need help."
She carries photos of the people she serves tucked into small albums like a grandmother might carry photos of her grandchildren.
She carries their stories with her. Their stories are her story.
The little girl who stopped at the market before she went to school to see what she might be able to scavenge for her family grew into a woman who continued to have a keen eye for people in need.
Born the eldest of seven children of a Chinese father and a Hispanic mother in the Philippines, her life is a series of challenges she met, with the sure knowledge, she said, that "God is always with me."
When she was 16, her father told her she would enter an arranged marriage. "I could not object," she said. "I had to be obedient." She also found herself the breadwinner for her five children not more than a dozen years later. She would become successful in the insurance world, becoming the first female insurance broker in her country.
Today, in the East Bay, she lives a life of family, taking care of people, and prayer.
Her service in feeding the poor grew out of her role at the parish. "It all started when I was giving them Communion at home," she said.
She visits the sick, and often gives rides to medical appointments. She noticed that some of the people did not have food in their homes.
The food she packs in her car comes from a variety of sources. The Rice Bowl grant — one of 28 awarded from the 25 percent of funds raised that stays in the diocese — was $650 for the year. Carroll is not a registered charity; the grant to fund her work is administered by St. Bonaventure Parish. The food pantry at St. Bonaventure provides some of the goods she distributes.
Her ministry of generosity extends to people she sees pushing their belongings in a cart along the streets. She stops and offers help.
"My mistake was giving money," she said. "Now I say, 'Are you hungry?'''
When the answer is yes, she pulls a little something she has packed away in the car, serves it and sits with the person while he or she eats.
Maybe there's a story they need to have heard.
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