This month, as Christmas approaches, let us reflect on those who may not have enough for a proper daily meal, let alone a holiday feast. These thoughts lead to the great work being done by one of our priests, Father Charlie Piatt, S.T.
Father Charlie has a unique ministry. About five times a month, he travels across the state line to New York from our mission at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling, New Jersey. He goes to some of the toughest neighborhoods in the Bronx and Staten Island. Places where there is a police substation every half mile or so. It is here that Father Charlie is giving people going through tough times the tools to support themselves and their families.
On a cold, blustery morning, a group of about ten men comes bustling into to a small training room. They are here to take Father Charlie’s 10-hour OSHA training course based on the Occupational and Safety Health Act which teaches guidelines on safety and use of tools and equipment in the workplace. Some are high school dropouts, some are new to the U.S. and others are recently released, inmates. For these men, leaving this room at the end of the day with an OSHA 10 Card- a card that indicates successful completion of the course- means the beginning of a new life. You see, in New York, in order to work in construction, you have to provide proof of passing this class. No card–no job.
Father Charlie takes his job seriously and makes sure that these men get the “full class experience” as he likes to say. At the end of the day, he is confident that whoever takes his class has the knowledge needed to pass the course and to go out there and succeed. Sometimes a success story unfolds before his eyes. While waiting in line to receive his OSHA 10 card, Robert answers his cell phone. It’s a potential employer. He called to ask Robert if he had passed the course. Robert excitedly tells him he is in line to receive his card. After hanging up, he tells the group that he starts work the next day! He knows that this year he will be able to give his family a Christmas celebration without assistance. It’s in those moments that Father Charlie thanks God that he is there.
And, at this time of year, when we sit down with our family and friends for Christmas dinner, it seems fitting to pray for our brothers and sisters who are not as fortunate.