Something is blooming in Parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Pennsport section of South Philadelphia. And it’s more than the new garden.

Students in the parish’s religious education program learned about the seven sacraments and the lives of saints.

“But we wanted to provide a way for students to put their faith into action right here in our community,” said Catechist Patrick Manning.

To do this, students began working in small groups to research and develop three projects aligned with an aspect of their Catholic faith: planting a new garden; install a community pantry; and plan a cross-cultural food exchange and share food with neighbors.

Through these projects, students gained a better understanding of bodily works of mercy and the seven pillars of Catholic social teaching.

Before Holy Week, the students set up a pantry and planted the new garden.

Reflecting on their experience afterwards, a group of students wrote, “One of the bodily works of mercy is to give food to the hungry. We represented this…by designing and painting a food pantry to put in front of our church…because we wanted to help people struggling with food insecurity.

Another group reflected on Catholic social teaching and said its principles offered a way of “seeing the world” and that concern for God’s creation was new and exciting to them.

“I liked that we could help the environment by planting flowers,” said one student.

After learning about the teachings of the church and putting them into practice, one student said he was able to “take those thoughts and make them a reality. The plantation (the garden) and the food pantry were intended to help our community. »

The Community of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is working to make the third project a reality. Currently, the parish is planning an afternoon to cook tamales, where the diverse community of the parish can learn from each other, share food together and reach out to the wider community who may be in need.

This project is the continuation of the mission imagined by Father James Otto, parish priest of the Sacred Heart.

“The PREP students have worked very hard to bring this mission to life at the parish,” he said. “It is a growing mission that our young people and parishioners of all ages and from all walks of life are helping to develop. It is exciting to see the Holy Spirit working in our parish!

The garden continues to bloom and attracts the attention of passing community members. With the support of groups like EcoPhilly and Laudato Si South Phillythe garden has been a beautiful addition to the parish and a way for students to learn about caring for creation.

At the entrance to the garden is the pantry. Thanks to the support of parishioners and a generous donation from Sunday love projectthe pantry was purchased, painted, installed and fully stocked.

The students learned that their work was a response to the invitation of Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato Si’” hear both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.

Because of this, the students wanted to come up with a name for the pantry that reflected the abundance of God’s love for his people and all of creation.

In the end, they all agreed on the same name, just in two languages: Loaves and Fishes / Panes y Pesces.