LITTLE FALLS -- The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls will host a spaghetti supper benefit Saturday in their convent dining room. Funds raised will bring basic food, medicine and school supplies to children, youths and adults living in poverty.
Sister Janice Welle, community relations director for the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, is the event's coordinator. Event proceeds will help Franciscan missions in the United States, Zanzibar, Honduras and Ecuador, Welle said. Two hundred forty-five Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls are members of their worldwide community. One hundred of them live and work out of the Little Falls convent. The remainder work in 21 states and three countries.
"The U.S. missions refer, especially, to two of them," Welle said. "One (is) in Tchula, Mississippi. Three of our community members have been there for 26 years. It started out being a presence of hope among the poor; really, it was the poor blacks. Their ministry has changed from social advocacy and health care, to foster care for crack and HIV positive babies. They have a home in which they live -- a rented house that our community provides. In fact, a man in Plymouth (Minnesota) has bought the house and is renting it to the Franciscan Sisters for $100 a month, which is almost a donation, because it is so little rent. He believes in what we are doing there.
"In San Francisco, two community members are beginning a ministry called 'Faithful Fools' among the homeless in the middle of the city. They're working to get a building whereby people can stop in for a bath, some food, some fresh clothes, and maybe even stay over to sleep.
"There are three of our community members in Ecuador, Central America. Two of them actually are working to set up a shelter for the homeless. Presently they find some of the homeless sleeping on the stairway or the landing of the church. They find children sleeping under bridges. They are just very, very poor.
"Two of our community members are on an island off the east coast of Tanzania. It's called Zanzibar. They were asked to come there by a Catholic bishop to help prepare students to pass exams for higher education on the mainland. And presently their little school still has no electricity; and it's extremely hot and humid at this time. That obviously affects their concentration.
"The other mission is in Honduras, where one of our community members who helped with the 1998 flood returned to care for the poor through a clinic that is providing basic food and medicine," Welle said.
Welle is responsible for the public relations, communications and development for the Franciscan Sisters' community. The work of her department, she said, "since it's for the community," covers all the globe. "In fact, I e-mail to Zanzibar, and send faxes to San Francisco. We work to promote the vision, the mission and the values of our community through communications. And that can be the written word, or the spoken word, through radio, television or through our Web site." (www.fslf.org.)
"It seems like it's going to be an annual thing," Welle said of the spaghetti supper. "We've had it two years now, and (before it even was scheduled this year) people called in and asked when we were going to have our spaghetti supper. ... So it's not only a fund raiser, but a fun gathering to renew relationships, and to enjoy companionship.
"Many vendors that our Franciscan Sisters use to furnish our food here are donating the meat, the noodles, the sauce the bread, and many things that we are needing to put on the spaghetti supper. So we're ready to serve 500," said Welle.
Tickets for the event will be available at the door. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for children ages 5 to 12. Children 4 and under eat for free. Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread, salad, bars and cookies, coffee, milk and lemonade make up the menu.
Supper will be served from 4:30 to 7 p.m. St. Francis Convent is located at 116 Eighth Ave. S.E., next to St. Gabriel's Hospital, in Little Falls.
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