By Dan Pezzola, FC 19 Syracuse
The Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen is open every day from 9am to 1pm and soup and sandwiches are distributed between 4pm and 5pm. This left a large chuck of time in the middle of the day. After about a month I began looking for different ways to fill this time and I found out that Friar Nader had recently become the director of The Franciscan Place, a little Catholic gift shop and chapel at Destiny Mall here in Syracuse. I had never heard of a chapel in a mall before so I wanted to check it out. I soon realized that with my past experience working in retail stores I could spend my three hours at the gift shop really helping out. I asked AJ and Friar Rick and they were delighted to say yes as was Friar Nader and my three hour break problem was solved!
The Franciscan Place is somewhere to escape the craziness of one of the biggest malls in America. They offer Confession and Mass every day and so many people come in for these Sacraments. While I am there I help ring out customers, stock shelves, check items into the system, but most importantly be there for people. Going into this year I never thought this is what it would end up doing but I do enjoy it. Watching people getting filled with joy after going into the chapel or helping someone pick out a baptism gift makes my day even better. The personal stories people share are amazing and the amount of people who come in still amazes me. One thing that really moves me is when soldiers come in with their families and want to pick out a pocket Bible. When they come in for the Bible they are also coming in for prayers. I always try to ask for their names and write them down and pray for them. Being there for the little time that I am makes me remember the little things and helps focus me on what really matters. One of the things I have done while working there has been to rearrange all the holy cards. As tedious as it was, I now know a lot more saints and prayers! I joke with Friar Nader all the time about the holy cards, but looking back on it I enjoyed doing it. Although working at the Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen is my main job, I enjoy going to The Franciscan Place as it is something I couldn’t do anywhere else.