Almoner is a middle English word, coming from Medieval Latin through Old French, meaning "one who is responsible for distributing alms."

The word has fallen out of use in the U.S., but thankfully, here at St. Josaphat the action hasn't.

1180 Gift Cards were distributed to hundreds of homeless people on the streets of Chicago. $6,637.08 was collected, and in addition to the Gift Cards, we will be able to feed the homeless that come to our door for 3 weeks! Wow! It is easy to turn a blind eye, and pass judgment on the homeless people we see on the street.

We can easily disapprove of how people choose to live their lives, or spend their funds, seemingly letting us off the hook for helping them. But, to steal a phrase, "What would Jesus do?"

This story from the Chicago Tribune provides some insights to this line of thinking. Of course, in giving, there is always an impact to the giver, as evidenced by some of our St. Josaphat almoners:

"When I told him that the gift card was for $5 at McDonald's he got a big smile and said that I had just made his day because he will be able to take his kids, Billy and Francine, to McDonald's for a special treat." "I was on the el with an older gentleman and it was clear people were giving him a wide berth.

After I handed him the gift card, he said "God Bless You. God has just answered my prayers. I know if I pray long enough and hard enough he hears me." "I was driving West on Fullerton near Elston when the car in front of me, with a St. Josaphat School bumper sticker, stopped and handed a gift card to the homeless person begging in the street. I was never so proud to be part of St. Josaphat Parish!"

"Because of the Almoners Program, I have tried to make it a habit to greet the homeless people as I walk past. One gentleman thanked me for saying hello as no one had acknowledged him for the whole day."

"I always wondered how to help the homeless on the street. I used to carry granola bars until someone told me that in many cases they are too tough to eat. I have now started keeping a stash of $5 gift cards in my glove box."

Deacon Pat, who coordinated the Almoners Program this year, would like to thank everyone who contributed, everyone who passed out Almoners cards after Mass, and everyone who distributed them to the needy.

THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS! JosaFAST: Stories from the Almoners (constantcontact.com)

 If you've come to Mass at St. Josaphat during Lent, you have heard the word "Almoners" tossed around.

After communion every week, a special collection was taken for the Almoners program, and after Mass, everyone was invited to take as many McDonald's or Dunkin' Donuts $5 Gift Cards to hand out to as many of the homeless people during the week.

My own story about begging is being on the side of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago and goofing off yelping, "Almonds for the poor. Almonds for the poor." My friend who used to work at the Archdiocese, saw me and laughed and then handed me some money. And if I recalled some almonds.

One time she asked me to accompany her on a trip somewhere in the suburbs and told me that she just wanted someone to go with her even though I don't think I was interested in the subject matter. So we get on the train and finished our bag lunches and started to go to the place where the event was supposed to be. And yet the event wasn't there and the person at the door told it was in a different spot and so for the next seven hour we walked around in circles and she kept her positive countenance.  She is and was older than I  and when I asked how she was after the long walk she stated, "a bit stiff." Years later I would wonder if there was even a meeting. I never got an answer to what really transpired.

She invited me out one time to eat with her friend, she was celebrating the anniversary of a dead friend who was her mentor and "would do things like that."

Nice place although the service was subpar even during lunchtime when only a few tables were occupied. My memory is that we kept on asking for more bread, "It was so good." And I kept on thinking to my self that it would arrive as we were getting ready to pay the check. And sure enough baskets of bread came from the kitchen as we were paying the bill. Ironic that I could see the baskets and was going to just go into the kitchen and grab them and thought better of it.

A good friend we loved to share a bagel or almond croissant. Good company.

Was thinking of my friend Suzanne today when I woke up. I would put holy cards in weird places around the city and someone would take them down.

She would see them and put them back in DePaul's Shapel where we used to pray after Sunday mass and a bagel at Einsteins. 

Where did such a smart guy ever find time to create a business and make bagels?

Although their is no connection between giving to the poor and Alzheimer's Disease, she now has that.

I once told her brother that if I were much younger that I would marry his sister. She had lots of energy and now it is mostly gone. On the Feast day of Thérèse of Lisieux, we met at the elevator and she was being wheeled out by her sister and I said, "Hello," and she responded. That was the highlight of that day. I vowed never to prayer to the Little Flower again. 

And then I asked to be the head Almoner at Holy Name Cathedral and Father No in all his wise and intelligent ways stated, "We will see." They always tell me how "I will see, and yet, I don't. ""We will see," in priest talk is just a friendly way of saying, "No." And yet each time I pitch an idea, I ask myself, "Why Not ?" And then I thought it was just easier for them to say, "No." They were just trying to see what I could accomplish without them.

"I intervened personally” said the apostolic almoner to the ANSA news agency “to reattach the meters. It was a desperate gesture. There were over 400 people without electricity, with families, children, without even the possibility of operating refrigerators ”. In an interview with Corriere della Sera, the cardinal said he had known for a long time about the great difficulties of the people living in that building. "From the Vatican we sent the ambulance, the doctors, the food. We are talking about human lives, ” he said.

Cardinal Krajewski: I have reactivated the light for the survival of families and children - Vatican News