Jonah House Food Pantry Still Open

Baltimore, and the rest of the state of Maryland, are currently in lock-down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Jonah House Food Pantry, an “essential” enterprise, remains open, with the blessing of the city and state. We hope to remain open during the weeks of the “stay at home” order.

Our hours are 8am to 12pm on Tuesdays. To find us, search for St. Peter’s Cemetery in Google Maps (our mailing address will not help you find us).

We are not in need of volunteers at this time, but we certainly accept donations. Please use our donation page on this website to do so. Because of the pandemic, more people are in need of food (given many of the shelves are empty at the ONLY grocery store in the area), which increases our costs.

As special thanks Sarah Magno, Paul’s daughter, who raised money from her friends for our food pantry. Along with the $300 dollars raised, she also let us use her Costco membership to buy much needed supplies for the pantry. Thanks Sarah!

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Daniel Ryan Grave Restoration

By Joe Byrne

Last Lent, I made it a project to restore some graves here at St. Peter’s Cemetery, in West Baltimore. I was only able to do a few graves last year, and I’m late doing it this year, but every bit counts.

Last year I discovered the oldest gravestone I’ve seen here yet: that belonging to Daniel Ryan, who died and was buried at St. Peter’s in 1855, only four years after the cemetery was opened. Unfortunately, it was in the middle of a briar patch (actually, a patch of invasive multiflora rose and wine berry), which made it inaccessible and hard to read.

I decided to make Daniel Ryan’s gravestone my first project this year. I should say from the outset, that I wasn’t restoring the gravestone as such. It was remarkably well-preserved, given its age and that I was limestone, which wears down much quicker than marble and especially granite. What I did was improve the accessibility and readability of the gravestone.

After an hour, this is what the gravestone looked like:

I spent most of that hour pulling vines, and most of the vines were under the ground. I also pulled out the multiflora roses and the wine berries, as well as Amur honeysuckle, another aggressive invasive in the cemetery. I left behind a few tree saplings, and day lilies, which have colonized a good bit of the cemetery in the last couple years. Day lilies are also invasive, but I’m actually encouraging their growth, because they crowd out and out-compete other invasive plants (such as multiflora rose and wine berries), and particularly the vines. If day lilies can discourage vines from growing then climbing trees, that is good. Because inevitably they will strangle the trees and pull them down. When I no longer have a vine problem, I’ll worry about the day lily problem! Besides having lilies in a Catholic cemetery seems appropriate.

Here is the pile of pulled vines (though its hard to judge how big it is).

There are quite a few of similar vine piles in the cemetery. They need to be kept in separate piles so they won’t re-root. Unfortunately, they can’t go through wood chippers, lest they clog up the machine, so the piles pile up as it were. This is one of the vine problems we haven’t been able to solve yet.

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Musings from the Third Sunday in Corona Crisis

By Paul Magno

Our usual Sunday gathering at Jonah House was suspended in respect of the apprehensions about social gathering brought on by the great pestilence in recent weeks

So I made do with a solitary liturgy this am, consisting of penitence for transgressions one against another both personal and social, individual and institutional.  A hefty catalog of sins against the poor and powerless global majority, and against creation itself in service of greed and violence. All needing acknowledgement by offenders just for openers, then penance and then a drastic amending of our ways.  And for my own short-comings and foibles, anger, despair, thoughtlessness, and the hurts they inflict on people, I beg forgiveness from you my sisters and brothers. 

On to the readings of the day, especially the long Gospel of John about the blind man who Jesus gifts with sight after a lifetime of miserable living. Talk about no good deed going unpunished – behold the third degree the men of the church put this man through as he is adamant about saying a good word about Jesus, long after they’ve made it plain that doing so is beyond the pale. 

After some meditation on this a few prayers for the sick:

Our Friend John LaForge out in Wisconsin has a serious cancer diagnosis, let the healing hands of God be laid on him

My sister Patricia continues treatment for a breast cancer diagnosis. let the healing hands of God be laid on her

Any and all afflicted by the Corona virus whose health is harmed and life endangered, let the breath of God be poured out in love and care for your healing.

For our world, infested with debilitating and lethal injustices of our own perverse making, let it be on earth as it is in heaven, a  just and peaceful subversion of the inflicted social order. May it break in like a thief in the night. Let our hearts cry out like Job for an end to such unmerited suffering.

And the dead:

Our deceased sister Lin Romano was remembered in a Baltimore Sun obituary this week. Let us pray to be guided by the light of her life for others. Resting peaceably in God’s arms, I fancy her bemused by all of our Corona consternation. Lin Romano pray for us 

An inveterate peacemaker in Washington of my acquaintance, most recently known as Pat the Peacewalker, remembered by many as Paul Collins, passed on days ago. May the sign of Peace he carried so valiantly for many decades make its indelible mark on us and may God take him to heart as a child of the Peaceable Kin-dom.  

And those afflicted by the demonic:

Our Kings Bay Plowshares defendants,  enduring a long and excruciating wait for a sentencing date for a disarmament witness against Trident’s omnicidal weaponry two Aprils ago, are prolonged even more, thank-you Corona, as paralysis descends on the court. May the soothing hands of God gift them with the peace they have fought and suffered for over these years, and fortify them for the promised wrath of Caesar when sentencing day does come upon them. God hear our prayer

For the many who need our thoughts and prayers for sufferings of all kinds, we pray to God. 

Finally  we are promised food for the journey in the breaking of the bread and sharing of the cup of liberation. Elsewhere in John’s gospel he says, “I have told you these things , so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Amen. Let it be so.

We are blind too often, too much. 

May we see and say what is true, regardless.

Peace, Brothers and Sisters

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Pantry Project

Our pantry upgrade is well in progress. Ausar and Bow are doing the construction work on our new walk-in cooler, with the help of a crew of young men from the neighborhood.

We’ll certainly have it done by summer time, when we’ll need it. But now in the winter, we just have to open the pantry windows!

Here are pics of the work crew in action.

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Ash Wednesday 2020

By Joe Byrne

Once again, this year Jonah House was able to send representatives to the Ash Wednesday gathering at the White House in Washington, DC, organized by Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, and other associated peace organizations. Paul Magno and myself were those representatives.

For one thing, we usually attend because Jonah House is usually responsible for bringing the ashes from one of our wood-burning stoves. Also, I usually cantor some of the songs.

The service contained readings, both biblical and contemporary, along with prayers for peace and justice. After readings and songs, Fr. Joe Nangle of the Assisi Community in Washington, DC, blessed the ashes. The ashes were sent around and each participant was anointed with ashes, and anointed the forehead of someone else with ashes.

Then participants were invited to draw symbols on Pennsylvania Avenue, such as crosses and peace signs, with the ashes Jonah House brought.

Paul was inspired to kneel and pray before the entrance gate to the White House, but was not bothered (or arrested) by the police.

I was inspired to create ash “shadows” of people to signify the shadow outlines created when people are incinerated by nuclear bombs.

Unfortunately, they more resemble snow angels!

The halo was not my idea. Nor was the missing (or “achilles”) heal. The latter seems much more appropriate than the former.

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How Can I Keep From Singing

By Paul Magno

I woke up here in Baltimore this morning and knew it must be raining for a reason
Just a few minutes later a brief text from David Hoovler announced that Lin Romano had died this morning, at age 63 after a 16 month battle with cancer.

Hard not to cry, harder even to cry.

Lin had lived at Jonah House for about a year in the late 1980s, after her participation in the Epiphany Plowshares disarmament action at Willow Grove Naval Air Station in PA in January of 1987. After four trials she was finally convicted and sentenced to two years in federal prison in Lexington KY.

For over a decade before that, she had lived and worked among the poorest people in Washington DC as a member of the Community for Creative Nonviolence.

Throughout the last three decades, she has remained “passionate about creating a just world,” through several jobs here in Baltimore, through her continued association with Jonah House, and with David, to whom she was married since 2005.

Joe Byrne and I had an opportunity to visit her last week at the Gilchrist Center, an inpatient hospice care facility in Towson, and be by her bedside for about an hour. Though her body was weak, she was aware of our presence and tried to sing along with the tunes Joe played on the dulcimer. She was able to smile and open her eyes a few times.

We wait on word from David about any memorial arrangements.

To close, I’ll paraphrase just one of those songs

Her life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.
We hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation.
Above the tumult and the strife
We hear the music ringing;
She sounds an echo in our souls
How can we keep from singing?

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Jonah House Pantry

Monday pick up from the Baltimore Food Bank volunteers ready to unload and pack pantry boxes for Tuesdays pantry.
Melissa and her daughter the dynamic duo always here to help on pantry days
Mom, I will sort this box for you!
Rainbow packing up and getting ready for Tuesday’s pantry
When we run out of pantry boxes we have to pack up emergency bags.
Joe on task!!!

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