By Joshua Kinney, Director of Communications
Despite uncertain times, Brother William Ciganek is certain of one thing: God showing up in new and unusual ways. Sometimes it is through late night phone calls from parishioners asking for prayer or counseling, other times God shows up in the people who come to receive food from the church distribution center. Brother William has seen God in donors, personal stories, memories, and even Facebook posts.
“I had to become more technological due to COVID-19,” he said. “The circumstances pushed me to learn and challenge myself to find new ways to connect. I have seen God show up in people, places, and conversations I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.”
A native of East Baltimore, Brother William grew up in the Sacred Heart of Mary Parish and worked for Bishop Dennis Madden. He attended Mount Saint Joseph High School where he experienced some of “the greatest, most wonderful and formative years” of his life. Now a Pastoral Associate and Director of Faith Formation, pastorate of three parishes in East Baltimore, Brother William has faithfully stepped up to the challenge presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Countless families have been affected by food insecurity in these times,” he stated. “Lately I have found myself getting into conversations with people I wouldn’t have had otherwise; evangelizing and sharing the Gospel. People are looking for more than just food.”
Feeding the body and the soul has become Brother William’s calling. Spending his days working on food distribution and donations, he has humbly encountered God in ways that have moved him; growing his faith.
“I met a woman from Honduras who came to the U.S. to get her son away from gang life,” he said. “When she came to pick up food she asked if she could make an exchange, presenting cleaning materials that she had stocked up on. It was in this woman I saw the living out of our fundamental principles.”
Another woman in the parish gave Brother William forty dollars to buy food for the distribution center.
“The twenty dollars I would have spent on gas and the other twenty I would have spent at the hair salon I no longer need at this time,” she said generously. “I want this to go to feeding the vulnerable.”
Brother William feels much like a missionary now more so than ever. Whether it is connecting in new ways with others over the phone, Zoom, social media, email, or through food distribution and serving his city, he looks to St. Francis Xavier’s example and strives to be a disciple of Jesus through the simple and ordinary.
“Who knew I could do so much through technology, food, and prayers,” said Brother William. “It all leads back to the empty tomb and the hope of the Risen Christ.”
God is certainly using Brother William to reach people in new ways, meeting both physical and spiritual needs in times of uncertainty.