Normally the Catholic Charities center on Ninth Street offers a haven for people to come in from the cold to seek job training, medical care and other services.
But at noon Tuesday, workers and supporters filtered out of the building onto the narrow sidewalk in front for a brief prayer service on behalf of the hungry.
About three dozen people, bundled in heavy coats and scarves against the chill wind, formed a tight semi-circle around the organizers.
Bishop Zubik talks about 'wave of prayer' to end hunger
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh joined in a Pope Francis-inspired ???Wave of Prayer??? to end hunger. Bishop David Zubik led the event. (Video by Nate Guidry; 12/10/2013)
The event was part of an appeal by Pope Francis for a global "Wave of Prayer" to end hunger, being held at noon local time in every time zone, creating the effect of a wave crossing the globe.
The event would "connect us not only with our Holy Father but especially with Jesus as he calls us to reach out to those who hunger," said Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik.
The participants offered hot chocolate to passers-by, listened to a Gospel reading about Jesus feeding a multitude and recited a litany of petitions led by the Rev. Thomas Kunz, spiritual director at St. Paul Seminary.
"Jesus, hope of hungry ... Jesus, hope of the homeless ... Jesus, hope of all who despair," he said, and after each line the crowd responded, "Hear our prayer."
Father Kunz added after the service: "Especially how cold it is today, it reminds us how much people need our assistance. There are people out in the cold every day."
Deacon Cliff Homer, chief operating officer for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, said the need for regular supplies of healthy food is a problem for many in the region. The agency offers emergency relief and other services from offices in Allegheny and five surrounding counties.
"In my daily life and daily ministry at Catholic Charities, I see first hand the hunger," he said, noting that it affects "the elderly and the middle class and children."
The event, "One Human Family, Food For All," was organized by Caritas International, the relief and charity agency of the Vatican. Caritas estimated that 1 billion people have experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment since 2010.
Peter Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1416 or on Twitter @PG_PeterSmith.