The ‘Angel of Tremont’ retires

CLEVELAND - Sister Corita Ambro, whose food program in Tremont has served millions of meals to the homeless, will retire this Sunday after 48 years at St. Augustine's Catholic Church.

"It was God's plan, and I loved every single minute of it," she says.

Sister Corita, who looks to be about 60 years old, but is actually 83, didn't start out wanting to be a nun.

"I use to cry myself to sleep because I thought I didn't want to become a nun," she says, "I wanted to get married and have children."

But she felt the calling, and at 18, made a choice.

"I decided if I go to the convent, I can leave if I want to," she says, before adding with a chuckle, "if I get married, I'm stuck for life."

She has worked with Father Joe McNulty at Saint Augustine's for 46 years.

Early on, the pair thought they had to do something to reach out to the homeless community that was in the neighborhood.

"She saw the solution as a meals program," Father McNulty says, adding that Sister Corita believed a meal was a way they could reach everyone.

They encourage people who come for the free meals to seek help for whatever problems they are having in life.
What started out as one free meal a day became two meals a day and is now three, funded by private donations.

Every day, St. Augustine's serves about 750 meals.

On Thanksgiving, it's over two thousand meals.

Although she has gone to an occasional conference, Sister Corita has never taken a vacation.

"I don't need them," she says, "I watch the ball games."

Sister Corita is a big fan of both the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Browns.

And Sister Corita had, in a sense, a family of her own - an extraordinary, unique family.

Over the years, she took in children, usually teenagers, who came from troubled backgrounds.

All total, Sister Corita raised 35 children.

Two of them, Winnie Mack and Doris Everetts, now work with her as adults.  "She taught us a lot about forgiveness," Everetts says.

"And she always made sure it felt like a family," adds Mack.

She is retiring in part because standing for a large part of the day is now starting to take a toll.

In retirement, she says she hopes to grow spiritually and plans to visit people in nursing homes who don't get visitors.

As for her meals program, she says she hopes that "whatever I started here continues, and the people are fed, the people are helped, and the people are loved."

The program will go on, in the spirit of love given to it by its founder.