Getting Creative in the Fight against Hunger

By: Art Bennett

President and CEO, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington

The Diocese of Arlington encompasses some of the most influential and prosperous counties in the country. Financially, the Lord has blessed us abundantly and it can be easy to think hunger isn’t such a problem.

But drive just an hour west on I-66 from St. Thomas More Cathedral and people are standing in line at ‘Loaves and Fishes,’ the newest Catholic Charities food pantry in Front Royal, Virginia.

Overcome with gratitude, not only for the food they receive, but also for the dignity with which they are treated, several clients have embraced pantry manager Shelly Cook with tears in their eyes.

Volunteers serve Thanksgiving dinner at Christ House, Alexandria

That reality is that people are hungry in our diocese. In the outermost and rural parts of the diocese especially, the hunger and need is extreme. Closer to our nation’s capital, 10 percent of our neighbors do not have the food they need. Faced with the prospect of feeding a family during the summer without the help of free or reduced school lunches, many parents are desperate.

That is where Catholic Charities comes in. Our goal at Catholic Charities is to bring the love of Christ to everyone, particularly the most disadvantaged and poor. We can only do this with your help.

We are finding new ways of reaching the rural poor, but unfortunately we are running out of food. We have to get creative and work together as a community to get food back on the tables of our brothers and sisters right here in our own diocese.

That is where you come in. No matter where you live or how old you are, you can make a significant contribution by donating funds or food, or organizing a food drive in your community

Here are just a few of our programs your support can help in the fight against hunger:

  • Each month, Christ House provides 1,800 free meals to the clients who come for our nightly dinner program. Operating 365 days a year (even during Snowmaggedon!) with the help of parishes and groups from all over the diocese, our staff and volunteers daily feed and welcome the poor.
  • Christ House on Wheels (affectionately nicknamed “CHOW”), is a program made up of a regular army of volunteers who collect food from food drives and other sources and deliver it to where it’s needed most: the rural parts of the diocese.
  • Supplemented by the fresh produce from their brand-new St. Martin’s Garden, the many seniors at the St. Martin de Porres Senior Center, Alexandria, receive 940 lunches and 370 breakfasts per month. At the senior center, game prizes often include fresh bread and other food items.
  • At our Western Regional Office in Leesburg 120 lunches per month are delivered to homeless individuals accessing a local day center.
  • Each month, 580 families are provided with nonperishable goods from our three food pantries in Front Royal, Leesburg and Alexandria.
  • And much more …

Unfortunately, all of these programs are dangerously under-stocked with food and supplies. I invite you to prayerfully consider how you can help: whether in the form of money or food donations or organizing a food drive in your parish or community. Visit Catholic Charities at or call 703-841-3830 for information on how you can help the poor in our diocese.

One thought on “Getting Creative in the Fight against Hunger


    Sacred Scripture attest to what we can refer to as fact if we believe in a divinely inspired Holy Bible that GOD knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb.

    In a certain limited sense, although not in an ontological substantial and accidental sense, each one of we humans has our roots in GOD’s utterly unfathomably unlimited imagination before the very foundation of the entire Cosmos. If you would like, you might loosely interpret this knowing as a very limited non-existential and non-ontological pre-existence yet without our pre-existing before we were procreated, in a manner that we simply cannot understand at present.

    What I am alluding to is not some form of previously life nor a substantial or personal existence before conception, but rather a sort of pre-existing root that led to our creation, a pre-existing root that was GOD’s perfect image of how and when HE would create us from all eternity.

    The above paraphrase of Sacred Scripture shows just how intimate our existence and ontology is with GOD’s causal act of our creation and just how intimate this act of GOD’s will is with HIS ALMIGHTY INTELLECT.

    From an existential and ontological standpoint in terms of our substance and accidents, soul and body, we had no pre-existence or previous life before we were conceived in time in our body and directly and immeadiately created Human Soul.

    The mystery of our creation, body and soul, and the relationship to our newly created selves to GOD’s mental conception of how, why, and when we would be created is a profound mystery that is perhaps much more mysterious than the creation of the material Cosmos in terms of the Cosmos’ physical material composition and any non-physical material composition.

    I am absolutely not trying to support the existence of re-incarnation or past lives as in so-called past life studies involving regressive hypnosis as I believe and the new Catechism Of The Catholic Church states that there is no re-incarnation and that is is appointed for men to be born only once.

    I am merely trying to state the emphasis Scripture provides for us in terms of the revelation of the mysterious genesis of our creation with the ALMIGHTLY PERSONAL LOVE that GOD has for Each One Of Us and which calls Each One Of Us by Name and which planned us from All Eternity.

    If the mystery of the initial creation of the very physical cosmos in terms of its first principle, prime matter, directly and immeadiately created compositon, is a mystery, then how much greater is the mystery of the creation of each separate, individual, completely distinct, unique, and unrepeatable Human Soul.

    The Human Soul, precisely because it is the separate, individual, completely distinct, unique, and unrepeatable life or vital principle that constitutes each one of us as a free, unique, unrepeatable, autonomous, individual with a totally distinct identity, is in a sense much more of a mystery that the creation of the physical cosmos because each Human Soul, when created and united substantially to a newly conceived embryo in a real sense forms a entirely new and distinct separate microcosm that contains all of the basic elements of creation from those of the purely physical such as the mass-energy and space-time that define our physical bodies to the vegetative life principles that our bodies share with plants, cells, and bacteria, to the emotions, instincts, and senses we share with animals, to the rational, logical, and free volitional powers we share with any bodily ETI and UTI, to the purely spiritual element of our soul which we share in common with the pure spirits known as angels.

    Each human person is in a sense a separate cosmos to the extent that each human person is a profoundly distinct being and GOD so loved us and so loves us that HE planned each one of us from all eternity, gave HIS only SON to die on the Cross for each one of us, and calls each one of us as a distinct, autonomous, personal, free, vital, sentient, rational, individual, and then so by our own very name.


    All human persons, on Earth still, in Heaven, in any Limbo, in Purgatory, and even those unfortunate enough to be consined to Hell will last forever and will retain the natural attributes of their identity, souls, and personalities. When GOD states in Sacred Scripture and the Catholic Church states in Her Supreme and Ordinary Magesterium as well as in Her constant and un-erring tradition that each Human Soul is immortal, we can except these teachings as un-erring fact that cannot be altered for all eternity. Each Human Soul will live forever at least at the natural level regardless of where a given person ends up after death and regardless of the actual mechanism of the immortality of each Human Soul. GOD wills each Human Soul as Immortal and never takes back what HE grants in nature.

    As Pope John Paul II mentioned in one of his books, I can’t recall which one at the moment, to the extend that the universal eternal life bestowed on humanity by virtue of Christ’s Death and Ressurection is lived out in a life beyond the grave for those consined to Hell is a complete mystery. However, John Paul II states that not even Sacred Scripture can be used to prove that Jude the traitor who handed Christ over to the Roman soldiers went to Hell. Pope John Paul II thus calls all of us by the words “Be Not Afraid!”

    That a Hell exist is also unerring Catholic Doctrine and so we are advised to avoid going there at all personal cost. Why GOD would permit moral evil in HIS creatures and innocent material evil is in a real sense a profound and currenly vielded mystery, perhaps even to the highest Saints in Heaven. Want proof of this latter assertion? Then realize the fact the just and the unjust at the Final Judgement will say to Our Lord as in the following paraphrase of Sacred Scripture, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, alone, imprisoned, naked, or afflicted and when did we feed you, give you to drink, visit you in prison, clothe you, comfort you when you where ill?” The Lord will accordingly reply as in the following paraphrase, “So long as you witnessed such and did such for the least of my brethren, you did so unto me.”

    Yes, it seems that moral theology and its teachings will not even be completely understood by even the just at Final Ressurection. Thus, those languishing in our prisons and in our psyche wards, or as homeless on our city streets, or as addicts in our substance abuse clinics, folks who even many Catholic Clergymen seem to want to ignore, will in all likelihood be among the least of Christ Brethren who will be among the first. Those ignoring such poor souls who are in positions of authority within the Church and in civil leadership will likely be counted among the first who will be last and may even be turned away from Our Lord at the Final Judgement.

    I thus present my case why those who would ordinarilly seem repulsive to those in so-called alpha positions in our society should never be shunned or neglected. There will indeed be many Lazarus’ and Mary Magdelines feasting at Our Lord’s table, perhaps many more than many of promenent Church and civil leaders would expect and like to admit.

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