Matthew 25 and Madison Square Print
Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON — So. It’s Autumn. How did you live your faith this summer? Mass? Good. Eucharistic Adoration? Going on retreat? Personal prayer time? Terrific. Love Begins Here and other Mission Trip experiences? Great.

Farmers Market? Fabulous.

Wait. Farmer’s Market?

Yes. Farmer’s Market.

Each week at the Farmer’s Market on the Square in Madison there are people who arrive to collect the donations of generous farmers and farming collectives and co-ops. These collections are then gathered along with donations from other local Farmer’s Markets and shared between 50 food pantries throughout the southern Wisconsin area.

For some people it’s a great way to spend a Saturday with friends and with family. For some, it’s more than just a good time — it’s an act of faith.

Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish has been involved with the Farmer’s Market pick-ups for nearly 20 years. On a recent Saturday in August there were over a dozen volunteers (most of whom were teenagers) who came to help. Some people have been doing it for years, while for others it was their first time. Everyone said they’d be back to do it again.

The high school volunteers, family members, and friends arrived toward the end of the morning Farmer’s Market. They donned the signature red vests and picked up their wagons and crates that signal to farmers and vendors that they are collecting. They received instructions and square assignments from the coordinator and they were on their way.

For Trevor Roessler and his dad, Mark, this summer was the first time they came to help. And after the first weekend, they were hooked. “It’s great to see people willing to help the rest of their community. Would I have done this without Trevor? Probably not. But we are helping each other outside of our comfort zones — and it’s good to do that.” Trevor agreed, “Dad keeps me focused and we both get something out of it . . . It’s such an easy way to help.”

For the Schreiner family, it’s become part of their summer tradition. Lisa, a longtime volunteer and mother of three other longtime volunteers (David, Zach, and Josh Schreiner), said “We’ll take our usual section. We have developed relationships with the vendors —we’ve been doing this for close to 10 years. It’s important for the food pantries, but it’s important to the vendors as well. They thank us for volunteering. And it’s become important to our family . . .”

For Our Lady Queen of Peace Coordinators, Gary and Sheila Muldoon, it’s become an important way of living their faith – specifically the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. “People shouldn’t go hungry because of a lack of food in Madison. We are simply part of our community willing to help our neighbor as Jesus calls us to do. There are certain times when we all need help. This is how we are journeying with our neighbors. We definitely think of it as a ministry.”

Perhaps, though, the best quote of the day came from volunteer Barb Bielec. She and her son, Will, have been helping with the collection for three years. As she arrived, she looked at a fellow parishioner who was there for the first time and exclaimed, “I recognize you from QP! You’ll like this — this is one of those volunteer things I get way more out of than I put into it.”

And knowing that they were spending a Saturday living what Jesus calls us all to do, help those in need and to feed the hungry, made and already beautiful Saturday more perfect.