By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The actions of an Enid priest in 1958 opened the door for one of the most successful and caring ministries in Enid.
In 1958, when Father Paul Gallatin was pastor of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, people would come by the rectory asking for food. From there it became Our Daily Bread, which celebrated 30 years Thursday.
Gallatin began making sandwiches and people would eat them standing outside the church. Eventually, Gallatin realized that process could not continue, and it was moved to the church basement; and as it grew it was moved to a classroom in the old St. Joseph’s School. Finally, Our Daily Bread was moved to a new building across the street from the church at 616 W. Randolph.
Sandy Howard, director of the soup kitchen, said they feed about 60,000 people each year. Howard, who has been director for 20 years, said there have been fewer people to feed this year, because many of them have gone to work in the oil field.
“But there are a lot of homeless people and senior citizens with no place to go,” Howard said.
When they moved into their building, they had two freezers, and today there are five. Our Daily Bread has grown and Howard said volunteers from many churches in Enid come regularly.
“Our freezers are full. What a wonderful problem to have,” she said. Everything is donated to the kitchen and there are no salaries paid. Even Howard does not receive a salary. About 70 volunteers a week work at the kitchen.
Gallatin, who now is retired, was a special guest at the dinner. Gallatin was senior pastor and he said before Our Daily Bread, people began to come to the rectory and he would give them food, making them a sandwich.
After Gallatin left St. Francis, he pastored an Oklahoma City parish for 25 years.
“The people who do all of this are responsible for this phenomenon,” Gallatin said. As the ministry grew, it began to involve other people in the community because it meets a need, he said.
“No one sees the need until you start, and then you realize the need was there all the time,” Gallatin said.
Our Daily Bread was the first in Enid to feed people on a regular basis. At first, about 25-30 people would come, then it grew to 45-50 each day when he moved to Oklahoma City. He said it is the only complete meal some people receive, and the ministry grew to a point a new building had to be constructed.
Howard told the volunteers Thursday was a very special night.
Rose Patocka said she was there when Gallatin made his first peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. She said when the soup kitchen first began, people coming through dressed poorly. But today, she notes they have more self-esteem.
Howard called the evening fellowship for the volunteers. She said the Our Daily Bread building is God’s house and she is blessed to have people who help.
Speaking to the volunteers, Gallatin said the ministry has defined the parish as a ministry to people in need. Gallatin recalled Jesus’ statement, that whatever is done to the least of his brothers, is done to him. Gallatin said the church received spiritual growth from serving others.
“It gives a purpose in life and a sense of joy and fulfillment,” he said. Our Daily Bread does not treat the people who come there as clients, but as guests, Gallatin noted. “I was here, but the people started it.”
He told the volunteers they are deeply rooted in faith, and that will be remembered when they face God. “When you face God, he will say you are the people who fed me,” Gallatin said. “The great thing is, you loved the poor.”