Since 1999 St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Old Ottawa South has been offering a Sunday evening meal to those needing a helping hand and a warm welcome. The “Out of the Cold” suppers had their beginnings in Toronto in 1987 and we celebrate their 30th Anniversary this year.
The program was founded by Sr. Sue Moran and Fr. John Murphy with the support of the students of St. Michael’s College School. They opened their first drop-in center under a banner proclaiming “Out of the Cold.” The students and their teachers were moved by the death of a homeless man near their Bathurst Street School.
Sadly, the co-founder of this inspiring program, Sr. Sue Moran passed away in December 2016. Cardinal Thomas Collin’s comments on her legacy stated “Her unwavering dedication to serve the homeless was inspiring. Her efforts engaged faith communities throughout the area, reminding us of our call to provide not only shelter but also dignity, compassion and love to the homeless.”
When our program began at St. Margaret Mary we were initially preparing sandwiches for use in social assistance to those in need. After discussions with the people we were reaching out to we increased the scope of our program.
From the months of October to April, we open the doors of our church hall and provide a hot beverage and a healthy snack before serving dinner at 5:00pm. Guests have time to socialize and relax in a welcoming environment. Frequently one of our guests adds to the pleasant atmosphere by playing the piano, something both volunteers and guests really enjoy.
As we conclude our 18th year of the Out of the Cold Suppers here at St. Margaret Mary, it is interesting to look back at the full picture of the program that began three decades ago. We are thankful to all the volunteers who faithfully serve up hot and delicious meals every week. Our volunteers are members of our Parish, working together with many neighbors from the wider Old Ottawa South community.
We also greatly appreciate the financial support provided by those who generously donate to our program. The year we are hosting our annual fundraising event on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Our church is located at 5 Fairbairn Street at the corner of Sunnyside and Fairbairn. We invite members of our Parish and our friends in the community to a wine and cheese to help us “set the table” for another successful year of Out of the Cold Suppers.
Leslie VandeLaar is the Parish Office Manager at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.
Originally published in the September 2017 OSCAR.