St. Thomas Catholic brings Thanksgiving spirit to the table

On Tuesday evening the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center hosted a Thanksgiving dinner to bring together Minnesota State University, Mankato students and community before the holiday break. 

The food was prepared by many of the church attendees. They served many of the traditional Thanksgiving favorites such as turkey, green beans, and lots of different pies. 

Tessa Soukup, a senior working as an intern at St. Thomas, said, “Our church moms make amazing pies. They love to bake, so we always get excited during events like these.” 

This event has been going on for as long as the organizers can remember. However, it looked a little different last year due to COVID-19. They were still able to host the event, but they were unable to advertise and had to implement many restrictions.  

Andrew Heller, the director of campus ministry said, “I’m in charge of all the activities, which made it really hard for me to do my job during COVID. I’ve been working here for five years and it was really hard to see how COVID affected all these kids. After last year we realized just how important mental health and community is. That’s what we are really trying to focus on this year.”

Heller pointed out that this dinner was for anyone and everyone, not just church members.

“This event is for anyone and everyone to get to eat  free food and to build community after COVID. We wanted to provide a good home cooked meal for these students who miss it and for them to be able to make new friends,” Heller stated. 

The church was full all night long with people in attendance, as many were excited to eat a meal that reminded them of home. 

“Most college students that come through our doors have been eating at the dining hall all semester. They look so happy to see the freshly cooked food,” said Soukup. 

This is very true for senior Taylor Nixt. 

“A friend of mine went to this church and told me that there was a free home cooked meal. I couldn’t turn it down. I think it’s cool that they are doing this for people.”

The church’s main goal this year is to reach out to the community and to provide support following the loneliness that COVID brought to everyone. 

“I can definitely see how much they are trying to reach out to the community and I think it’s really great. I came for the food and me and my roommate have already made new friends. I think it’s the Thanksgiving spirit,” said freshman Paige Peterson. 

Heller emphasized the importance of students knowing that everyone is welcomed to the church.

“I want everyone to know that our doors are open to all, not just Catholics. Whether you just want a friend or you’re not sure what to believe in, this is a place you are always welcome. That’s the main thing we wanted people to see tonight. That no matter who you are or what you have done, you always have a place here,” Heller stated.

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