The Mary Rose Mission was founded on November 18, 1995 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The original location of the mission was an old factory building in Cincinnati, OH where the members gathered to pray for direction for a ministry through the intercession of our Blessed Mother. In November of 1999, the MRM opened a hospice house on Russell St. in Covington, KY where an all volunteer staff began a ministry of caring for the terminally ill who had no one else to care for them. These people had their physical and spiritual needs attended to and numerous conversions were witnessed. The hospice house closed its doors in 2008 when the services were no longer needed as local Catholic hospitals established their own hospices.
Only months after the Russell Street home opened, MRM began its mission in Grenada, West Indies at the request of Father Ed Conlon, a local retired priest working as a missionary in that country. Under the direction of the Bishop of Grenada, the MRM has assisted in building an addition to the St. Martin De Porres Home for the Aged, as well as assisting in restoring Catholic schools and building a Carmelite convent. The greatest challenge in Grenada was the establishment of a Catholic radio station on the island. Through the generosity of the Bishop of Grenada, the mission occupies and maintains a diocesan building which serves as a lodging facility for local missionaries and the local MRM prayer group.
After MRM closed its hospice house, it was time once again to ask for guidance and direction from our Blessed Mother. After much prayer and research, the need was discovered for a soup kitchen in Florence, KY. Information gathered from local agencies and other sources indicated a number of children who were so distracted by their hunger that it was difficult for them to keep up with their school work and their personal development was also negatively affected. In an effort to help these children and their families, the MRM began the search for the perfect location.
In February of 2011, the MRM purchased a building at 272 Main Street in the heart of Florence and began working on opening the kitchen. Once we realized that the opening would not happen immediately, we began collecting non-perishable food items in hopes of delivering food to the clients whom we would eventually be serving.
On Friday March 9th, 2012 the staff gathered to bag the collected groceries for delivery on Saturday March 10th. When the sorting was complete, we had filled 67 bags with groceries to be delivered, thanks to the generosity of others. The next day, we delivered those bags of groceries to families who were hungry. The smiles on their faces reflected their appreciation for the items we were able to provide. Grocery delivery continued twice a month until the kitchen doors opened to serve meals.
While we were delivering groceries, renovation continued on the building on Main Street in order to create a commercial kitchen and dining room. To close the financial gap, an anonymous donation to the MRM in the amount of $150,000 made it possible to move ahead with the renovation. Construction was completed in early 2013 and we began serving meals in March that year.
Since March 24, 2013, we have served a hot evening meal every Saturday and Sunday evening. After nearly 6 months of service, we were able to open for Wednesday evening meals also. We were able to find grants and solicit funds to expand our refrigeration/freezer units. Next, we procured enough money to “bump out” the side of our building with a larger walk-in refrigerator/freezer unit. With the addition of the storage space for cold food, we were able to add service on Thursday evenings. After increasing our volunteer base and refining our service guidelines, we were able to open on Tuesday evenings at the beginning of 2015. On the fifth anniversary of our opening day, March 24, 2018, we finally reached our goal of being open seven days a week, 365 days a year!
One of the many high points during this journey happened during the frigid months of January and February of 2014. Our guests were cold, but our generous volunteers and community members donated enough money to allow us to house some of our guests in a local motel. While this solution wasn’t long term it made us realize the need for cold shelter in our community. We are currently working to find a way to serve those who need shelter during the cold winters.
We ask you to pray for the Mary Rose Mission as we strive “to love as God loves.”