Serving St. Francis' Table for 20 years

  • May 19, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Fr. Bressani Catholic High School in Woodbridge has sent students on an after-school trek to help the poor in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood every week for the past 20 years.

One of five Toronto-area schools that commit to helping St. Francis Table on a weekly basis, Fr. Bressani has the longest tenure.

The students, with a teacher, make their way to downtown Toronto to help the Capuchin-Franciscan Friars at St. Francis Table, a restaurant for the poor where clients are served a meal for $1. Over the past 20 years, the efforts of more than 3,500 students has totalled 17,500 hours of ministry.

“As a Catholic school, we always want to show some service to the community,” said Pat DeCaria, principal at Fr. Bressani. “It’s a great lesson for all of them to see the other side of the coin, to see that we take a lot for granted and to realize that one of us could be there one day.”

DeCaria said it has been more than an outreach for the students, and more than just an opportunity to gain their required hours of community service.

“They’re humbled by it,” he said. “

Brother John Frampton welcomes half a dozen of the school’s students every Thursday from 3:30 to 7 p.m., assigning them tasks that range from dish-washing and mopping the floors to food preparation and serving clients. The students are usually accompanied by teacher Paul Harris, who has co-ordinated most of the student’s trips down to Parkdale.

“The patrons are much impressed with the service,” Frampton told The Catholic Register.

In an e-mail, he added, “Their presence and ministry for over 20 years is a real statement on the part of the many young adults who generously give their time to help feed the hungry.”

Frampton recently presented the school with a plaque to recognize its two decades of service.

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