Loaves of Love

Loaves of Love

Mount St. Peter Parish’s Easter bread delivery brings parishioners together

By Elizabeth Smith

For more than a decade, Darlene Resek and Pat Policastro have witnessed conversations spark and friendships begin — all thanks to a loaf of bread.

Policastro, a pastoral associate at Mount St. Peter Parish, New Kensington, and Resek, the parish’s holiday projects chair and a lifetime member of the St. Anthony Guild, oversee the parish’s annual Easter bread delivery during Lent, which brings Easter bread to the doors of senior parishioners who have difficulty traveling or those who live in nursing homes and other health care facilities.

“For me, this has been a project I am very passionate about,” Resek says. “It’s important to stay in touch with all of our parishioners. We want them to know we think about them, we care about them and we love them. The Easter bread is a token of that.”

The program delivers decoratively wrapped Easter bread baked by Fazio’s Pizza and Italian Food in Arnold — a longtime partner of the program and owned by parishioners — to nearly 270 people each Lenten season, along with holy cards.

To make it all happen, the St. Anthony Guild recruits a large team of volunteers of all ages, some who travel as far as 20 miles to make deliveries. Many are extraordinary ministers of holy Communion who already have regular routes to deliver Communion to nearly 100 elderly and homebound parishioners.

Policastro says utilizing the eucharistic ministers and the logistical plans the parish already has in place is an important key to the program’s success. But, she adds, the real success comes from the quality of the visits between the volunteers and recipients of the bread.

“We benefit from being inspired by how those we deliver to deal with their illness or other challenges with positivity,” she says. “Meanwhile, the recipients always feel pleased that these visits remind them they are valuable members of the parish.”

Each year, the volunteers return from their delivery routes with this inspiration, along with new connections and moving experiences, Resek adds.

“When we gather that morning, sometimes whole families are volunteering together that include little children or teens,” she says. “We begin with a prayer and then they set out on deliveries. Sometimes the recipients invite the volunteers in for a chat or coffee, or sometimes the little children will become friends with the senior citizen they are helping. At the end of the day, we ask the volunteers to reflect on their experience, and they continually tell us how much they appreciated meeting people they otherwise would have never known and what an amazing day they had.”

If you would like to volunteer for Mount St. Peter Parish’s Easter bread deliveries, or if you know a homebound parishioner who should be on the delivery list, please contact Pat Policastro or Darlene Resek at  724-335-9877.


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