PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) — Sister Angela Daniels dreamed of teaching, but that was crushed decades ago by an energy-zapping disease.
Fate sent her to a place where’s she’s helped countless families feed themselves.
“I was asked if I wanted to help out here,” Sister Angela said, referencing Assumption Parish on Potters Avenue in Providence.
Back in the late 60’s the parish’s food pantry was serving about two families a month. The need would grow exponentially, with almost 3,800 people fed so far this year and more than 11,000 last year.
And while the need is there throughout the year, Sister Angela was extra busy this week, with Thanksgiving right around the corner.
“We have quite a line out there,” she said.
The sister is quick to point out that hellos and hugs are just as important as the boxes of food.
“Because so many, especially the elderly don’t see anybody,” she said. “We greet every single person, and say something. Where did you get that wonderful shirt? And you’re looking good. It’s important that they feel welcome.”
The Sisters of Cross And Passion assigned her here about 40 years ago, after Lupus drained the energy the order thought she would need to teach school. The disease was supposed to leave her weak, and at best, tied to a desk.
She’s not, quarterbacking the volunteer-powered event.
“Doctors say ‘we don’t know why you’re walking around,'” she said with a big smile. “They really can’t explain it.”
“We couldn’t do it without their help,” Sister Angela said. “And without this pantry, I just don’t know where these families would turn.”
Sister Angela’s decades of dedication have not gone unnoticed by the Providence Diocese either. She was graced with the Lumen Gentium award in May, recognizing her service to her parish and church.
But if you listen to her, she sounds like she’s being served.
“They give so much back to us,” she said after sharing moments with hundreds of recipients of this year’s Thanksgiving basket. “Just their expressions.”