While the city is busy “fighting” the issue of homelessness, a seemingly unforeseen event occurred a good distance away from the outbreak’s reach along the coast.
Citing the hepatitis A outbreak and ongoing renovations, Mary, Star of the Sea, a Catholic church in La Jolla, decided to abruptly halt a charitable program that has consistently fed the needy for more than nine years.
Through the program, So Others May Eat, meals that were provided every second Tuesday of each month will no longer be served at the church. So Others May Eat alternates weekly, providing meals to the less fortunate at Sacred Heart Church in Ocean Beach and Mary, Star of the Sea.
Tresha Souza, the founder of So Others May Eat, says that she is appalled at the church’s decision to willingly neglect those in need.
“What many people would not realize is that at least 60 percent of people who attended our meals could be classified as ‘working poor,’ for they lived in their own homes,” said Souza. “In most instances, they were often families that counted on these bi-weekly meals for sustenance. Honestly, I just think that it is utter hypocrisy – to hide behind the hepatitis A outbreak and deny one’s fellow man aid. I can’t believe the church didn’t stand up for what is right.”
Unfortunately, the homelessness issue in coastal San Diego communities has become an exponentially polarizing issue.
The Beach and Bay Press recently reported that a Pacific Beach resident, Matthew Phillips, started a petition on Change.org to end homeless “feeds” at PB churches. Phillips brought the issue before PB Town Council as well. The petition cited the amount of petty theft, violent crime, severe mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and a generally apathetic nature of the homeless as reasoning to end the feeds. If it sounds like tough love, it is.
Not surprisingly, some citizens are outraged at this notion – almsgiving being a major tenant of the Christian faith – while there are those who support the issue outright.
While the La Jolla Village News reached out to Mary, Star of the Sea for comment, none was returned.
The Catholic Diocese did issue the following statement, however:
“We’re sorry for any misunderstandings that have arisen regarding the ‘So Others May Eat’ dinners that used to take place at Mary Star of the Sea. A major renovation forced us to close our parish hall for the past several months and we have had to redirect where and how we do our part to serve the less fortunate in our parish. We have not, and will never, turn our backs on the poor. As a parish, we will respond to the needs of our community; we will overcome the challenges posed by the hepatitis outbreak and we will continue to provide assistance to the homeless people and families who need our help and our prayers.”