By Ginny Revel
For the past thirteen years, Judy Padilla, a parishioner of St. Peter’s in Rocky Ford, has organized and cooked a free Thanksgiving dinner to help the people of that area celebrate the holiday. Judy embarked on this ministry as a compassionate response to her son’s untimely death from an auto accident in 1997. By preparing his favorite turkey dinner, and hosting the poor and the hungry in St. Peter’s parish hall, she honors Daniel’s memory, while performing a work of mercy.
Each year Judy is joined by a group of family members, friends and volunteers from the parish who help her do the shopping, preparations, baking, cooking, hosting and clean-up. This Thanksgiving 2010 they served approximately 180 people, which included deliveries of full course meals to the local apartment complexes and area assisted living and nursing homes.
According to Judy, it’s as much about the socialization as it is about the food. Make no mistake – the dinner is delicious, but it’s also very important that people not spend holidays alone, but in the company of spiritually uplifting friends.
By giving selflessly to others who are less fortunate, Judy has channeled the grief over her son’s death into a corporal work of mercy which spreads warmth, love, respect and kindheartedness to the poor, lonely and displaced in the Rocky Ford area. The dinner welcomes everyone – of whatever faith or of none.