By William T. Clew
The Mustard Seed at 93 Piedmont St., a Catholic Worker House which provides hot meals on weekday nights to those who need it, is undergoing a change aimed at making it more cooperative and open to younger people in the future, according to one of the Mustard Seed founders.
Michael Boover, a Mustard Seed founder in 1972 along with Frank Kartheiser, Shawn Donovan and Geraldine di Nardo, said the founders, joined by three others, formed a non-profit corporation called the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker Community, Inc., to work toward that change. Besides the original founders, the other corporators are Josephine Massarelli, Susan Arrage and Walter Wheeler.
Mr. Kartheiser said the Mustard Seed started in 1972 with a storefront at Pleasant and West streets. About a year later it moved to the present Piedmont Street address.
Mr. Boover said he owned the house where the Mustard Seed runs its operations but has turned it over to the new corporation. He said that on June 1 the new corporation will assume responsibility for the the house and continuing the Mustard Seed mission. In addition to feeding the hungry, he said, the group wants more of a commitment to prayer.
Donna Domiziano has volunteered at the Mustard Seed for nearly 30 years and has basically been in charge of the daily operation at the house. Mr. Kartheiser said she made sure the meals, donated by churches, synagogues and businesses, were served, kept order when necessary and handled finances.
“The Mustard Seed would not be around as long as it has been without Donna,” he said
Mr. Boover said she will retire June 1. She is not paid for her duties at the Mustard Seed but does live in the house. He said that she can stay there after June 1 until she finds another place to live.
Mr. Kartheiser said discussions about the future of the Mustard Seed, which will depend on new, younger people, have been going on for about three years.
“This was no rush job,” he said.
Mr. Boover said Miss Domiziano was involved in those discussions until she decided not to attend the meetings. Had she continued to attend the meetings she would have known about the incorporation plans, he said.
He said it has been hard for her to let go.
“It has been painful. It has been hard for her and hard for us,” he said.
Many years ago, Father Bernard E. Gilgun was involved with the Mustard Seed and its work. He died April 25, 2011. “He was a bridge between Donna and us,” Mr. Boover said.
He said that Miss Domiziano, 72, is not in good health. He said negotiations with her “did not go well. It’s a sad situation.”
He said she has been very attached to her work.
He said the corporators decided to go ahead with the plan to share the workload at the Mustard Seed rather than have the burden on the shoulders of one person.
Miss Domiziano did not return a call seeking comment about the changes.
Mr. Kartheiser said those changes got to be difficult for Miss Domiziano. They were not the way she wanted to go. He said she was asked what role she wanted to play in the future and she said she would rather retire.
He said she will continue with her present duties until June 1. There will be a celebration to pay tribute to her and her long service to the Mustard Seed.