Dialog Reporter March 26, 2020
A college student from Wilmington is putting his faith and his upbringing into action during Delaware’s virtual shutdown during the novel coronavirus pandemic.Patrick O’Connor, a parishioner at St. Ann’s in Wilmington and a junior at the University of Notre Dame, is offering his services to the elderly and others in the northern part of New Castle County. O’Connor reached out to St. Ann’s and to the diocese to deliver groceries or other commodities to people who for whatever reason are unable to do that for themselves. There is no cost for the service, just for the items that need to be purchased.
O’Connor said he got the idea from his own family. “My grandparents live in Bethlehem, Pa., and all of my cousins are older than me. They’ve been delivering groceries to them because they are all in the area, and I realized that a fair amount of immuno-compromised or elderly people in northern Wilmington or northern Delaware who aren’t lucky enough to have their family close by. I figured why not try to help them out the same way my cousins are helping out my grandparents,” he said.
The priests at St. Ann’shave been “amazing” at getting the word out, as has the diocese, O’Connor said. The pastor at St. Mary Magdalen gave him phone numbers of parishioners to contact who may need assistance. O’Connor is still doing his academic work for Notre Dame, where he is majoring in biochemistry and minoring in accounting, but he hopes his delivery service gets busier. He has heard from other college students in the area who are willing to help out as well. “I’ve had a pretty good response from a lot of my high school friends and a few people at the University of Delaware,” he said.
The 2017 alumnus of the Charter School of Wilmington said his impulse for community service comes from a combination of his family, Charter and Notre Dame. “My parents pretty early in life instilled the value in helping others. Charter was really where the ball got rolling on that. I was vice president for community service for the Jefferson Awards council there. While at Notre Dame, I’ve had service trips and tried to help out with local charities in South Bend,” he said.
The earliest O’Connor would be heading back to Indiana is June. He is home for the rest of the semester, but he has applied for a research grant that would place him at Notre Dame if he is approved. Until then, he has a message for those who might need his services. “Whenever people need me, I’m ready to go.”