Soup Patrol Ministry
Br. David Buer OSF, and a diocesan priest, had the vision to establish a winter shelter. They received grants to buy cots, but a space to host the shelter eluded them. So, instead of buying cots they rented a van for two months to serve soup and hot chocolate to the homeless on the streets of Tucson, AZ. Food was donated by Caridad, a feeding program founded by the pastor of another church in the area. Br. David and a group of volunteers, including some from the Salvatorian-led parish of Most Holy Trinity (MHT), worked together during the winter of 2006-07. They were able to serve for only two months.
The following winter a van was again rented. More volunteers from MHT became involved and after two months of serving, Fr. Bill Remmel SDS, then pastor at MHT asked if it would be okay to extend the soup patrol a few more months. Rather than using the expensive rental van, for the final few months of the 2007-2008 Winter, a MHT parishioner donated a station wagon. In 2008 Most Holy Trinity parish remained involved supporting, coordinating and extending the soup patrol for six months of the year. It continues to this day under the volunteer leadership of members from Most Holy Trinity Parish.
Kathie and David Weishaar started attending MHT in 1996 and moved to the area permanently in 2006. "Kathie had volunteered for other ministries at the parish but kept wondering about soup patrol," said David. "Two years ago we signed up to help and it has been so fulfilling." So, when Jeanette Arnquist, who had been leading the program for two years, approached them it did not take long for them to say yes. "I was ready but hesitant at the same time," said Kathie. "I prayed about it and when David said he would do it as well, I knew that was the sign and we are meant to be involved in this way."
The Weishaar's hope to continue in Jeanette's footsteps and all that she has done for the ministry as well as make additions to make it easier for people to volunteer and expand the opportunities for the young teenagers to do community service. Dave has already developed a website that people can go to learn about Soup Patrol and how to volunteer.
"There are many rewards," said Kathie. "Our hearts have been opened to see that the people we are serving are no different than you or I, they are just in a different situation."
Br. Jeffrey St. George SDS records and monitors monthly soup serving counts and makes sure the soup-van is cleaned, gassed up, properly stocked and ready to go for each evening route.
Training begins in October for the season. Soup Patrol runs from November 1st through the last day of March. Soup is served seven nights a week excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day because they have found that the residents of Tucson already take such good care of the homeless on holidays. During the week soup is made at Caridad, while on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, the soup is made by volunteers at Most Holy Trinity. The group serves approximately 80-100 cups of soup each night with bread, and sometimes a sweet treat.
In 2016-2017 Soup Patrol dished up 8,768 servings of soup along with bread and cookies that number grew to 12,796 last winter.
“Soup patrol has been a hallmark of the outreach of our parish for over a decade. Feeding those who have nothing, sharing a smile and recognizing their humanity is God's work and a benchmark of what it means to be a Salvatorian,” said Fr. Tom Tureman SDS, pastor of Most Holy Trinity parish in Tucson, AZ. “Jesus reminds us that prayer must be accompanied with justice, and soup patrol is all about justice. If you want to see the face of Jesus, then look no further than our soup patrol which continues to be a priority and enlivens our community daily.”