Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year for people who are by themselves.
That’s the driving force behind the annual Christmas Day dinner hosted by St. Joseph’s Church.
The parish will prepare a full Christmas dinner for not only Langley’s homeless and those in need, but also for seniors and those who are all alone this Sunday, Dec. 25.
The food and fixings are being served free of charge for anyone who wishes to come. Volunteers are expecting to serve 250-plus dinners this year. The dinner is at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall at 20676 Fraser Hwy., with doors opening at 4 p.m. for refreshments and socializing.
A hot turkey dinner will be served at 5 p.m.
There will be special guests in Vancouver Canucks anthem singer Mark Donnelly and his family. He is the brother of Father Lawrence Donnelly from the church.
“Mark is coming with his family, who are all opera singers, and there will be Christmas carols galore in the hall during and after the dinner,” noted deacon Dan Ritchie, who is the dinner’s co-ordinator.
Father Joe Ponti started the dinner 24 years ago, Ritchie said. John Murray was the chef at the time.
The main chef now is Matt Hinkle, with help from a small army of volunteers.
“I get all kinds of calls from people who just want to come and help,” Ritchie said. “These are not parishioners; these are people who just want to come in from the community, because this a community dinner, and we don’t turn anybody away.”
Ritchie said after dinner is served to the guests, volunteers have an opportunity to enjoy a meal.
Ritchie said this is another way of reaching out to the community. “It’s our Christmas gift from St. Joseph’s Parish to the community that we serve in Langley. We just found there was a lot of people in need at this time of the year.”
St. Joseph’s Parish is a “really giving” parish, Ritchie said. “We have the soup kitchen here, that we serve soup and sandwiches every Tuesday to the homeless and people who are just barely getting by.”
He summed up the dinner as being the parish’s raison d’être of “being Catholics and being Christians.”
If necessary, transportation can be arranged by calling 604-534-3303.