One word that describes my first week at St. Anthony Shrine is unexpected. I came into work on Wednesday morning, never having been to the Shrine, and was amazed. From the outside, the building looked like every other “normal” building. As I stepped inside, I felt as if I was entering a totally different atmosphere. I first noticed the windows and the artwork in the lower chapel. After exploring the first and second-floor churches a little more, I concluded that there was a calming and rather safe presence within the Shrine. This was before I ventured into the basement.

Two out of my three days this week were spent mostly in the basement of the Shrine. I helped unload a food delivery and then prepared the basement for Thursday’s food center. Every person, whether a volunteer or staff, worked diligently to get tasks done. I was really impressed with the level of efficiency used in the basement. Mary Ann Ponti, the Shrine’s director of Outreach has the system running like a well-oiled machine. She gave all volunteers, including
myself, a task, and made each person feel like what they were doing had a positive impact on the overall outcome of the food distribution.

I spent the third day at the Shrine sitting at the welcome desk on the first floor, and doing administrative work to help Julie Ogden, managing director. I appreciated the change of pace because I was able to witness and experience different aspects of the Shrine. Spending a short three days here at the Shrine has had an immediate impact on my understanding of what goes into running a church like this.

I am excited to continue working with Mary Ann in outreach and learn from her and I am also excited to work with Julie to increase my knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes to support such a place. Everyone has been incredibly kind and welcoming since I arrived, and I can’t wait to form meaningful connections with the people I encounter.

-Brianna Larnard, Holy Cross