Selfie of Br. Raphael at day camp

Br. Raphael Ozoude, OFM, volunteering at the summer camp.

I have had a good time here in East St. Louis. At first it was noisy because someone in the town was setting off fireworks every night until Independence Day. For the month of June, I volunteered at St. Anthony Food Pantry, which is in the basement of a Church on the property of the Motherhouse of Sacred Heart Province. Most of my time was spent helping the customers load the food produce into their vehicles. I was able to have good conversations with some of the other volunteers, most of whom are more than 60 years old and love what they do. Many of them asked me questions about faith and about our Franciscan way of life.

In the month of July, I volunteered at a summer camp for children between the ages of 5 and 18. It is run by Catholic Urban Programs under the direction/supervision of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. My main assignment was to give out food and to make sure the kitchen was clean so as to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. However, the other members of staff invited me to participate in many other activities because many of the children, especially the boys, lack a male influence in their lives. With me they were able to talk about sports, action movies, and so on. I enjoyed this ministry a lot because I was able to get to know the people I was ministering to.

Overall, it has been a blessed time here.

(After a summer of volunteering, Br. Raphael Ozoude, returned to St. Joseph Friary in Chicago.)