Bishop feeds the hungry during a visit to Response to
Bishop Michael W. Fisher wants the 175th diocesan anniversary to be a year of service. He
led the way when he visited the Response to Love Center and helped serve chicken and ribs
to the 150 or so guests.
Sister M. Johnice Rzadkiewicz, CSSF, guides Bishop Michael W. Fisher
through the Response to Love dining room. The bishop made a visit to the
East Side service center to help serve meals.
(Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)
The May 5 visit included meeting with the many guests who live below the poverty level.
“It feels like home when I come back here,” Bishop Fisher said. “I think it’s direct care for our
people. It’s hands-on. Our holy father talks about getting the smell of the sheep on us. That’s
from being with the people. We want them to know the Church is there with them.”
Bishop Fisher said he wants people to recognize the need for Catholics to always be in
service to God’s people. He came to the center to show his support for those who need it the
“We’re here for them. We’re here for their care,” he said. “There are corporal works of mercy
that we believe in – to feed the poor, to clothe the naked, to be with those who are vulnerable
in our society and to be able to reach out and let them know we’re walking with them.”
This is not Bishop Fisher’s first time at Response to Love, he served turkey dinners on
Thanksgiving. “It’s in his heart,” explained Michael Gilhooly, assistant director of the center.
“When he says he feels at home here, he really does.”
Joining the bishop were Father Peter Karalus, vicar general of the diocese, and Father
Benjamin Fiore, SJ, pastor of St. Michael Parish, which sponsors the center’s outreach
A typical day at Response to Love starts with the crowd coming in at 8:30 in the morning.
Some stay and eat, others take part in the adult education or English as a second language
class is taught upstairs. A food pantry helps families stretch thin budgets. A chapel provides
spiritual warmth. Through collaboration with other agencies key services around health and
wellness, education, employment, and social services are also provided.
“They come because we’re family,” explained Sister M. Johnice Rzadkiewicz, CSSF, the
foundress of the East Side social service center. “We’re not as big as some other places are,
but the personal involvement we have with people, the rapport. We know them. We love
them. We know where their family lives. We know when they’re hospitalized. We know when
there is a death. We come together as a family.”
On Oct. 22, all parishes and families of parishes will be invited to take part in a Day of
Service to meet the needs of their local community. Bishop Fisher would also like to set aside
a few days to feed the hungry in the diocese through meal programs similar to what
Response to Love offers.