ROCHESTER — Eating out is about more than just filling one’s stomach, according to Mary Bliss, a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Church on Humboldt Street. That’s why she joins several other seniors once a month for the “Lunch Bunch,” a bring-a-dish-to-pass luncheon that most recently took place at St. John’s Sullivan Center.
“It’s no fun eating alone, and we always find someone to chat with,” she said.
Sitting with her was Eleanor Flint, who graduated from the parish’s now-closed school in 1929.
“It’s in the neighborhood, and I like to come here,” she said of the luncheon.
Marie Derleth, who was enjoying the luncheon with her husband of 50 years, Eugene, said it was important for people her age to find as many social opportunities as possible.
“When you get to our age, you don’t have many friends because they all die off,” she said. “You’ve got to see people once in awhile.”
The Lunch Bunch was started three years ago by St. John, according to Anne T. Nary, a parish volunteer. Judith A. Brawley, pastoral associate, added the lunches used to take place at an area restaurant, but the organizers found it was more convenient for seniors to come to the Sullivan Center. June 16 marked the first time the Lunch Bunch was officially hosted by all three parishes in the Winton-Culver Catholic Community, which comprises the parishes of St. John, St. Ambrose and St. James in Irondequoit. The three churches clustered a year ago.
“We were saying that if we’re going into a cluster, this would be a good way to start helping people from the parishes to get to know each other,” Brawley said.
Pamela M. Wilko, a volunteer from St. Ambrose, said all three parishes agreed that the Lunch Bunch would be a great service for seniors.
“It keeps their spirits up instead of sitting at home and looking at four walls,” she said.
Marion F. Roth, a St. James volunteer, added that the event doesn’t tax volunteers like herself.
“I like being involved,” she said. “It’s been fun, especially meeting with different people. There’s nothing hard about it.”
She added that she also wanted to help seniors out of a sense of gratitude.
“Over the years they have given so much to the church,” she said. “We have the responsibility now to reach out to them almost as a thank you to them for what they’ve done over the years.”
Wilko said she likes working on the luncheon for the seniors.
“It’s my joy to see smiles on their faces, regardless of how hard we work,” she said.
Lee Adams, a St. James parishioner, noted the luncheon always features “good food and plenty of it.” Myra Gladfelter of St. Ambrose added that “it’s an opportunity to be with friends and meet new ones, too.”
“It’s a day out,” said Judy Speziale of St. Ambrose. “It’s being together and forgetting about everything else.”
Jennie Lima added that the luncheon is bringing together the people of the three parishes.
“It’s a little hard getting used to all these changes that we all have, but it’s coming and it’s getting better,” she said.