The U.S. Province sends men in formation to work for My Brother’s Keeper as part of their summer and winter service ministry placements. Holy Cross seminarians and brother scholastics have been serving at the non-profit, located in Easton, Massachusetts, since 2012.
“My Brother’s Keeper considers it a tremendous joy and privilege to include these men in our work,” explains My Brother’s Keeper president Erich Miller. “To contribute to their formation in some small way, and ultimately strengthen their future ministry as priests or brothers, is an honor. We consider these men part of our family and appreciate each and every one that has walked through our door.”
The synergy between the Congregation of Holy Cross and My Brother’s Keeper began in 1988, when co-founders Jim and Terry Orcutt attended a Cursillo Retreat led by Rev. Tom Lawton, C.S.C., and Rev. Dick Sullivan, C.S.C. The Catholic renewal retreat planted the seed for My Brother’s Keeper by rekindling the Orcutt’s faith and giving them a desire to serve others in God’s name. Both Fr. Tom and Fr. Dick were founding board members.
The Christian ministry delivers furniture, food and Christmas gifts free of charge to local families in need. Its mission is “To bring the Love and Hope of Jesus Christ to those we serve.” The organization, which began in the basement of the Orcutt’s home, has grown to two locations. One facility is in Easton, Massachusetts (adjacent to Stonehill College), and the other is located in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
“Jim and Terry started the work of My Brother’s Keeper to remind people that God loves them and to give them hope,” explains Miller. “When the organization first started, they wanted to make sure that people understood that they were merely instruments of God’s message. To reinforce that, they began to present a crucifix with every furniture delivery. To date, My Brother’s Keeper has given out tens of thousands of crosses to our neighbors in need.”
In 2001 the Congregation of Holy Cross sealed their support of My Brother’s Keeper when they agreed to lease an acre of land adjacent to Stonehill College to the organization so it could build a distribution facility in support of the charity’s work. The terms of the lease – 50 years at $10/year – reflects the Congregation’s “preferential option for the poor” and supports the charity’s partnership with Stonehill College to make the world more just and compassionate. In 2018, the Congregation leased My Brother’s Keeper an additional acre under the terms of the original lease, so the charity could build expanded parking in support of its growing volunteer community.
The organization boasts an annual volunteer community of 5,000, of which 1,500 are students – many come from Stonehill College. The organization serves close to 100 towns all over eastern Massachusetts. The Christmas program alone helps more than 3,000 families each year.
The day-to-day volunteer work can be quite strenuous. Volunteers pick up, package, and deliver large quantities of food and produce and are also tasked with the pick-up and delivery of furniture – it’s not a job for the faint of heart.
“The visiting seminarians, priests, and brothers bring a spirituality and intentionality to our work,” adds Miller. “The furniture and food are the tools we use to enter into people’s lives, to bring the love and hope of Jesus Christ to the surrounding community. All of our volunteers have the privilege of interacting and working with these men who are here, sharing their life’s calling with our community. Our volunteers really enjoy getting to know them and spending time with them. They make it a brighter place.”
Pictured above in the My Brother’s Keeper warehouse: David Murray (temporarily professed), Benjamin Sasin (postulant), Jacob Gorman (postulant) and Mike Ryan (temporarily professed).