The excerpt below is part of an article titled, “A Heart of Service” written by Kate Lochner and originally published by Unleash the Gospel, a publication of the Archdiocese of Detroit. (2020) 

In recent years, the soup kitchen at St. Moses the Black has typically helped feed 40-50 families a week. But in the spring of 2020, when COVID-19 shook the globe and left no community untouched, that number is increased by 400 percent.

“That first week, cars were lined up from the front of the church and all the way down the street. In the first 10 cars, we had at least six people get out of their cars and come to help us,” Camille {the Christian Service coordinator at St. Moses the Black parish} says. Suddenly Camille and her volunteers, mostly people who live near the church, became frontline workers themselves and were feeding 250 families weekly.

Camille Graces, the Christian Service Coordinator at St. Moses the Black parish in Detroit, Michigan. (Unleash the Gospel, 2020)

With aid from the federal government and local Catholic charities, most notably the Catholic Foundation of Michigan, their soup kitchen was able to meet the needs of the community, allowing them to feed 400 families through most of the summer. Each family received meet, fresh produce, canned goods, cereal, and other groceries. “They drive away from the front of our church with around 50 pounds of groceries,” Camille explains.

When asked about what has struck her the most during this time when the soup kitchen has become a lifeline for so many in the Detroit community, she notes, “We’re still feeding 250 families a week, the line just isn’t going away.” She adds, “It hurts because we get our regulars, our walk-ups, but we also get the recently unemployed, we get people pullin’ up in brand new 2020 vehicles that are now a part of the food insecure. It’s just that combination of people we’re serving and that’s not changing.” Yet a song of hope and gratitude remains, “we get so many thank ‘thank yous’ …people are so appreciative of what we do.”

“We’re still feeding 250 families a week, the line just isn’t going away,” shares Camille Graves, the Christian service coordinator at St. Moses the Black.

For Camille, being a Catholic means giving; it means service. Actively serving her community is integral to her faith and how she carries out her own beliefs. In talking about Jesus’ call for all Christians, Camille says, “He definitely straight up told us to take care of each other,” and for her, it’s as simple as answering that call. Aside from working as Christian service coordinator at St. Moses the Black, she holds the same role at the Most Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit.

Camille Graves (right) with two volunteers from the St. Moses the Black soup kitchen. (Unleash the Gospel, 2020)

“It’s where my heart is, in service,” Camille says. And pulling from the strength from her surrounding communities, she’s humbled by the people, not necessarily all Catholics or parishioners, who come together to make the running of the soup kitchen possible.

“We’re all his children,” she goes on, “Every man-made boundary you’re going to come up with, we’re just going to go right past it and do the Lord’s will. He told us to take care of each other, and that’s what we’re doing.” 

Prior to the pandemic, St. Moses the Black received donations from established relationships throughout Metro Detroit, from St. Anastasia’s in Troy to St. Margaret of Scotland in St. Clair Shores and stores like Forgotten Harvest. But since these programs are almost entirely run by seniors, and the donations came to a screeching halt at the height of the pandemic.

In recent weeks, parish programs have started to slowly come back. Still, it’s soup kitchens like the one at St. Moses the Black that need our help to continue to help feed the growing number of the food insecure in the wake of COVID-19.


Last April, as part of the Catholic Faithful Response Fund for COVID-19, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan helped raise over $14,000 to support the St. Moses the Black food pantry. See below for images that were taken during an on-site visit to the location on May 8th, 2020.

Recognizing the need for continuous funding and support to meet the great need in the community, Yvonne and Camille Graves Hill reached out to their friends at the Catholic Foundation in October 2020 to open the St. Vincent de Paul Conference Food Pantry of Catholic Church of St. Moses the Black Fund.  

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