For 20 years, Fraternite Notre Dame has been working in East Harlem, New York City, on First Avenue between 117th and 118th Streets.
God alone knows how many poor people Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie and the Religious Priests, Brothers and Sisters of Fraternite Notre Dame have fed from this humble place in perpetual activity. There, like courageous bees, the members of Fraternite Notre Dame incessantly collect and redistribute tons of food every year.
Just to give you an idea, here are a few figures concerning the year 2009:
-At the 'Mary of Nazareth' soup kitchen, 250 to 300 free, nutritious, balanced, hot meals are served from 10:30 am to 1 pm, Tuesday through Friday.
"We have several mothers with their children who come to the soup kitchen, especially during vacations, despite the free meals served in the schools."
- Every week, on Fridays, from 1 to 5 pm, we distribute a pantry bag of food to an average of 600 needy families from our neighborhood, a good bag of non-perishable food like rice, pasta, canned food; but also vegetables, fruits, and even frozen meat or fish:
"Last week, we received two pallets of watermelons, one of chicken, one of bananas. Believe me, we are very busy, because we cut the watermelons and we put them in bags so that everybody can have some."
"It is unbelievable! Every time the meat is over, God gives us some more, and for 3 weeks we have been able to distribute meat to the families"
"A poor person asked me: "Why don't you give fish away on Fridays?" I told him that we give away whatever God provides to us. He was heard, for last Thursday we received a large quantity of frozen goods, including fish, that we were able to serve the following day!"
Monday and Wednesday, from 5.30 to 9 pm, the Sisters bring hot meals to 150-200 homeless people who live in the streets, in different places of New York City.
Every week also, they bring food to 50 home-bound, elderly people as well as ready-to-eat cooked meals to about 25 AIDS patients who stay at home.
Every Saturday, 40 to 45 children from the neighborhood benefit from our after school Program with many educational activities, including field trips, games, and of course, a good, balanced meal. This program is very important to avoid that children be left to themselves in the streets, and our Sisters were able to assess what is going on:
"…The crime rate is rising in New York City. For the past two years, some groups of youth from the neighborhood, aged 12 to 18, have been forming gangs; they use cell phones and the Internet to send their messages and pictures. The Police showed us pictures of children with arms; several children from these groups were killed."
For many years, we have been visiting AIDS patients at Coler-Goldwater Memorial Hospital, and we still do.
In 2009, through our various programs, Fraternite Notre Dame served meals to about 180,000 persons and close to 34,000 families received food-pantry support!
Each year also, when everybody rejoices and celebrates Christmas, while less-fortunate children get to feel more acutely in their little hearts the bitterness of their condition, Most Reverend Bishop Jean Marie has a nice gift distributed to 2,000 poor children.
A spiritual ministry is also appreciated by many people who come to pray the Holy Rosary and attend Mass.
A Pilgrim Virgin statue does not cease to spread Her graces into the bosom of these families, who always welcome Her with love, respect and confidence.