A Baltimore Region ministry of food and fellowship with the poor, long paused by the pandemic, turned this past Christmas to one of gifts of appreciation when tragedy struck the family of the priest leading it. Our region mobilized to compose a Christmas basket of gift cards and other donations for the Rev. Al Scharbach, a married Ordinariate priest, and his family when one of their sons suffered a fatal accident.
Initially ordained an Anglican priest in 2005, Father Scharbach entered the Catholic priesthood through the Ordinariate established in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. Equivalent to a diocese but national in scope, the Ordinariate allows former Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their liturgical traditions. It accommodates Anglican priests who are already married, such as Father Scharbach. Abby, his wife since 1996, and their nine children are members of the Catholic Church. Shortly after entering the Church, Father Scharbach began his journey to become a Catholic priest, which was realized when Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, ordained him at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Baltimore Region began work with Father Scharbach at his Mount Calvary Church as a new project in 2019. On the second Saturday of each month, our members and volunteers joined Father Scharbach to prepare and serve a hot breakfast, known as the Bus Stop Breakfast, to the community outside the front doors of his church. There is a methadone clinic across the street, and many men and women who are struggling with addiction visit the clinic on Saturday mornings for treatment. We were able to serve them in a small way as we handed out egg sandwiches and hot coffee. The ministry brought many opportunities for deep conversation, prayer, and witness. Of course, Covid has put a hold on this ministry.
Then last August, Father Scharbach’s son, Isaac Ian Scharbach, 21, was struck and killed by an automobile while he was riding his bicycle near his home in Upperco, Maryland. In the midst of this terrible tragedy for the Scharbach family, Father Al not only preached the homily the following day, but also at his son’s funeral.
Since we still could not serve Father Scharbach’s community as 2020 drew to a close, we decided to serve his beautiful family with a Christmas gift basket (pictured on right). A notice was sent out and our region came through with donations and gift cards to fill our basket.
We are looking forward to an end to this pandemic so our region can get back to serving our Bus Stop Breakfast. And we hope we can continue to touch the hearts of the men and women with the love of Christ and give them hope in their struggles.