The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Jean Pappas' work served poor, hungry via food pantry

Rogers nutritionist retires, looks to broaden ministering in other areas of Church

Published: April 17, 2014   
Alesia Schafer
Jean Pappas, parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers, has trained, coordinated and volunteered at the parish food pantry for more than 10 years. She has seen it grow from serving 10 families a day to more than 50 per day in the last decade.

Name: Jean Pappas

Parish: St. Vincent de Paul Church

City: Rogers

Age: 56

Family: Married to Dr. John Pappas for 30 years, two adult children

Why you want to know Jean Pappas: After 10 years of volunteer service and expansion with the food pantry at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Jean, a lifelong Catholic, retired from recruiting, training, scheduling and coordinating volunteers to spend more time with family and broaden her scope of ministering within the Church. Her background in nutrition and dietetics coupled with her steadfast concern for the indigent made the food pantry a natural fit in her service to the Church and community at large. Four days a week, the pantry, with the help of six to seven volunteers, opens its doors to serve from 50 to 70 families. Jean has served the parish over the past 25 years in various capacities ranging from serving hot lunch in the school to being a sacristan and Edge and Life Teen volunteer. She also attended Cursillo and was a founding member of a women’s Bible study.

In her own words:

Arkansas Catholic’s theme this year is “Tools for Discipleship.” What religious items or tools — Bible, rosary, religious books and periodicals, etc. — do you rely on regularly to inform and inspire you?

I have always enjoyed reading Catholic publications that include a Scripture reading and thought for the day. Usually these subscriptions have been given to me as a gift by dear friends. Not only do I find inspiration in the readings but I think of how fortunate I am to have such wonderful friends.

What is the best thing about this parish and what makes this food pantry stand out among others?

It has been exciting and challenging to watch our parish grow so rapidly over the past 26 years that my family has lived in Rogers. Working in the food pantry allowed me to spend time with parishioners whose families have been members of St. Vincent de Paul for generations as well as people who were new to the area. They are all an inspiration and I feel very lucky to have gotten to know them as we worked together. Our food pantry is different because we can give out fresh produce and fresh meat and have the capability to store refrigerated meat or perishable food. Including these items for clients allows us to give some healthy and protein-rich options to meet their nutritional needs.

What attracted you to volunteering in the food pantry and how do you think it makes a difference in the community?

I attended Catholic school in Monroe, La., through high school and received a B.S. in dietetics from Louisiana Tech and a M.S. in human nutrition from LSU. Afterward, I was employed at Charity hospital in New Orleans and served the indigent population and saw what a challenge it was to meet their nutritional needs. Through the years, I have been fortunate enough to develop a relationship with many of the clients at the food pantry. Volunteers go out of their way to treat everyone with respect. One client told me, “The best part of the St. Vincent de Paul pantry is that we give out more than food. People always leave with their dignity.” That made me appreciate the work we do and the volunteers that make it happen.

Why do you like being Catholic?

Two things stand out for me. First, the Eucharist is an important part of my faith life. Secondly, when I stand in line for Communion, I feel that I am standing in a line of Catholics that stretches back over 2,000 years. I am profoundly grateful for the immensely rich inheritance of tradition those Catholics passed down. For many, like my own Cajun ancestors, it was at great personal sacrifice and peril, yet they remained faithful to the Church.

What is your favorite saint quotation or Scripture verse?

Here is one from St. John Chrysostom that I read recently and it struck a chord with me. “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs. The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity.”

Please read our Comments Policy before posting.

Article comments powered by Disqus