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Archives New office and new food pantry
Bishop blesses new facilities at St. André Bessette Parish in Malone

March 13, 2019

By Darcy Fargo
EditorMalone Food Pantry

MALONE – Now moved into a new parish office complex, St. André Bessette Parish in Malone is looking to be more involved in directly serving those in need in the community.

“During the diocesan pastoral planning process, Living Stones, we looked hard at the needs of the parish and the resources available,” said Father Joseph W. Giroux, pastor of St. André Bessette Parish. “We discovered we had more space than we needed or could afford.”

As a result, St. Joseph’s Church in Malone was shuttered, and St. John Bosco Church became an Oratory. The parish’s offices were then located at St. Joseph’s, and Catholic Charities occupied space in the downstairs of St. John Bosco church.

“Catholic Charities needed more space,” Father Giroux said. “And we wanted to relocate our offices.”

The work to renovate the space was completed by Deacon Brent Charland, director of maintenance for the parish, and a crew of two others. Work started in December and was recently completed.

“Deacon Charland knows our needs, and he does great work,” said Andrew Duso, business manager for the parish. “He was able to complete the renovations while keeping up with existing maintenance needs and plowing, which hasn’t been a small job this year.”

Both Duso and Father Giroux noted the parish likely saved a significant amount of money with Deacon Charland completing the work.

“A new volunteer came in and saw the space for the first time. As she was looking around, she said, ‘I think (Deacon Charland) saved us a million dollars,’” Father Giroux said.

Feeding the hungry
In addition to creating new offices for parish staff, Deacon Charland was tasked with renovating space for The Good Samaritan Food Pantry.

“Feeding the hungry has been a ministry of our parish for a long time,” Father Giroux said. “But previously, we essentially paid Catholic Charities to administer that program for us. The ministry was disconnected from the parish. It felt like we were paying someone else to do our charity for us. We want to be more hands on.”

The food pantry is now open and providing non-perishable and perishable food items, as well as personal care and hygiene items to community residents in need.

“We based our model on what they’re doing in Old Forge,” said Deacon Charland. “Instead of giving out bags of pre-packed food items, we use a point system. Points are given based on family size, and each item in the food pantry has a point value. The families can pick which foods they want instead of getting whatever we give them. We feel like it gives them a bit more dignity, and the family gets food they know they can use.”

The food pantry is open Monday from 1 to 3 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.; and Friday frim 9 a.m. to noon.

The Good Samaritan Food Pantry is stocked with donations from local individuals and businesses, as well as food purchased from local businesses and a regional food bank.

Deacon Charland said the pantry served 116 residents in its first week in operations.

“There’s a lot of need,” he said.

Deacon Charland also noted another need related to the pantry.

“We started with a small number of volunteers, but we could use more,” he said.

Blessing and celebration
St. André Bessette Parish celebrated the new space with a blessing ceremony and potluck on March 3.

“Outside the structure looks the same, but there’s been a beautiful transformation on the inside,” said Bishop Terry R. LaValley.

Bishop LaValley referenced the Gospel of John, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet.

“He said to them, ‘as I have done for you, you should also do,’” Bishop LaValley said. “You’ve done a great job making this a really hospitable and welcoming place where you can extend Christ’s love to others, so they, too, would know God is present and God is good.”

Father Giroux said he hopes the new facility breaths new life into the parish and into the portion of Malone where its located.

“Our parish and other parishes across the North Country have experienced tough times,” he said. “Hard decisions have been made, and many are experiencing a sense of loss. We’re trying to set ourselves up in such a way that says, ‘the Catholic Church is open, and we’re here.’ Our (parish) patron saint, André Bessette, was the door keeper of Montreal. In keeping with his example, we want people to feel welcome here and feel the love of Christ."

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