PHILADELPHIA – The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great honored its partner organization, Caring for Friends, with an inaugural award on December 23.
The Macrina and Basil Award for Gratitude is presented to organizations and individuals whose outstanding generosity supports the mission and work of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great, Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province.
The award was presented by Sister Joann Sosler, OSBM, provincial of Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province.
“We are so thankful to Caring for Friends for your tireless dedication and spirit of charity. It is on account of your help that the St. Basil Support Ministry has been able to reach so many,” Sister Joann said.
Caring for Friends was founded by Rita Ungaro-Schiavone in 1974 under the name of Aid for Friends, and was subsequently rebranded in 2019 under its current name. It provides “food and friendship” to the homebound, seniors, veterans and others.
The organization supplies a wide array of foods to faith-based organizations and community non-profits for distribution throughout Philadelphia’s five-county metropolitan region. These include perishable and shelf-stable items, as well as ready-to-heat meals and “blessing bags,” which are small bags with snacks. Volunteers also make weekly home visits to client friends. All of the organization’s work is done at no cost to its beneficiaries.
Caring for Friends was one of the first organizations to collaborate with the newly formed St. Basil Support Ministry, which was founded in December 2020. It has also proven to be one of the most important. The food provided has helped those individuals who need support, particularly during more challenging weeks.
The Macrina and Basil Award, named after the Sisters’ founders, honors St. Basil the Great, who started a social ministry in the 4th Century in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Called the Basileiad, the ministry offered food, healthcare and more to anyone in need and was widely recognized for its importance to the extent that the Roman Empire funded it.
The Sisters’ latest initiative was purposefully called a support ministry rather than a food pantry in order to convey the Basilian emphasis on care for both body and soul. It underscores the organization’s belief in the synthesis of physical and spiritual nourishment, which is the very essence of human nature, as companionship is as essential for humans as food.
St. Basil Support Ministry distributes food on Fridays, 10 a.m. to noon. For more information, contact Sister Teodora Kopyn, OSBM at 215-429-0560 or 215-379-3998.