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St. Jude Community Center is expert at multi-tasking

The nonprofit St. Jude Community Center unveiled its first logo June 30, a black, gold and maroon emblem that indicates – in a glance – its ministries that feed the multitudes, care for the mental and physical needs of and house the poor and homeless and provide education.

“We’ve never really had a logo,” Marianite Sister Beth Mouch, center director, said. “It shows the main things we do. We take care of spiritual needs first, educate, feed and house people. We counsel when people need it and pray with them, if they want.”

Aptly named after the St. Jude Shrine at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church across the street that is run by the Oblate order that oversees the church and center, it cares for those seemingly labeled a hopeless cause by giving them hope, food, shelter and dignity.

The center initially cared for the elderly when it first opened in the 1970s, Sister Beth said. But when the elderly didn’t return after Hurricane Katrina, the center shifted its ministry to its current path of matching the needs of individuals living in the area. Breakfast and lunch are offered Monday through Friday – more than 900 people are served weekly – and lunch on Saturday.

Reaches out to homeless
The center also feeds and houses working homeless women and educates and counsels those who need it. It is also site for Second Harvest food distribution for 50 families in the zip code (81,000 pounds of food a year), has a St. Vincent de Paul office and partners with the Bishop Perry Center nearby.

Beyond helping those in need, St. Jude Community Center provides affordable lodging to volunteers who come to help rebuild New Orleans. Over the past 10 years, more than 2,000 volunteers have stayed here, Sister Beth said. Local organizations also offer services such as clients of ARC of Chalmette who set the table and pour drinks for lunch, and area churches who serve and donate food to the center.

While the ministry serves and respects people of all faiths, Sister Beth is pleased to announce that the center has had a few become Catholic.

“We’ve had converts from people who work here and use the church (Our Lady of Guadalupe) across the street,” Sister Beth said.

Logo means identity
Randal Tewksbury, executive producer at CS Productions, along with co-founder and producer Anton Zanki and New Orleans artist John Parra, were instrumental in the logo’s creation. A serendipitous meeting with a friend of Sister Beth’s led to the partnership.

“Our organization has been interested in unique ways to give back to the community,” Tewksbury said. Their company has worked with other Catholic entities including the Ursuline Convent Museum on its “Praying for a Miracle” exhibit and Our Lady of Holy Cross College.

Establishing a logo matched this aspiration.
Parra, who spent 40 hours creating the circular seal that measures 3 feet by 3 feet, said his idea was to incorporate all that St. Jude Community Center does. He prominently featured a cross in the middle of the seal as the central theme of faith.

“I wanted to put them all under one umbrella,” he said. “For shelter, I used the housing icon. For food, I used a fork and knife. I used the medical symbol representing mental and emotional help, and the book representing education.”

He told Sister Beth that he was humbled to contribute his talents to promote a ministry that means so much to many people.

“I am just happy there are people like you that are around,” he told her.

The multi-layered seal made from Ultraboard will be placed in the entrance area of the center, near a portrait of deceased Oblate Father Peter Rogers, a former pastor at Our Lady of  Guadalupe who wholeheartedly supported the center.

Sister Beth and board members are grateful for the new logo.
"It says it all,” said Barbara Holdsworth, a board member and GED program volunteer who attended the unveiling.  “What are our basic needs – shelter, food and spiritual grounding to make it through our hardships and to lift us up as we give thanks.”

The fifth annual Jude Sounds of New Orleans will be held July 18, 7 p.m., at Mahalia Jackson Theater. Tickets: $40 general admission, judesoundsofnew

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion

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