Sister Anna Nguyen, SCC, sorts sandwiches made by parishioners at Saint Nicholas Parish in Wilkes-Barre. The parish receives a Social Justice Grant from the Diocesan Annual Appeal to provide sandwiches to four local shelters on a monthly basis. (Photos/Chris Dolan)

WILKES-BARRE – The love that Sister Anna Nguyen, SCC, shows for the poor is evident in the way that she is able to inspire others to join her in service.

Sister Anna, a Sister of Christian Charity and director of social ministries at Saint Nicholas Parish, brings together dozens of people on a monthly basis to make sandwiches for several local shelters in Luzerne County.

“I feel very, very happy to give,” Sister Anna explained on a recent morning as volunteers filled the lower level of Saint Nicholas Parish to make sandwiches. “I feel thrilled.”

With the help of a Social Justice Grant from the Diocesan Annual Appeal, Saint Nicholas Parish is able to help bring the Gospel message alive, helping the less fortunate in the community.

Members of the Saint Nicholas Parish Social Concerns Committee work to package sandwiches for residents of four shelters in the Luzerne County area. The parish receives a Social Justice Grant from the Diocesan Annual Appeal to help fund this important ministry.


Wearing both gloves and masks to protect others from COVID-19, volunteers made ham and cheese and chicken salad sandwiches for individuals who are staying at Ruth’s Place, Keystone Mission, the McCauley House and the Kirby House.

“We’re feeding the Lord. Whatsoever we do to the least of His brothers and sisters, we’re feeding the Lord,” the Rev. Joseph Verespy, pastor of Saint Nicholas Parish, said. “In a simple thing like a ham and cheese sandwich, God’s life is touching us and we’re touching God’s life.”

Due to the coronavirus, the sandwich-making ministry was temporarily paused between April and July, not due to a lack of volunteer interest, but because many of the shelters were not able to accept the donations in the early days of the pandemic.

When volunteers resumed their efforts in August, there was a renewed sense of mission and purpose. Parishioners know their small efforts make a big impact.

“We’ve been doing three locations where people in need are and we’ve added a fourth location,” parishioner Rich Burns said. “Most of us have had an opportunity to deliver the sandwiches and baked goods and those kinds of things.”

Thanks to generous donors to the Diocesan Annual Appeal, parishes are able to apply for grants that help pay for social concern ministries. The theme of this year’s Appeal is Bound Together in Hope.

Father Verespy says the theme is very fitting because many people are looking for hope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I look for hope in all little events, kind words and simple gestures. It is like the little flower coming up through the crack in the sidewalk. There is always hope!”