By Christopher M. Riggs When the patrons at The Lord’s Diner addressed Zachary Pinaire as “Father,” he corrected them saying he was a seminarian getting ready for his second year of theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. They would answer: “OK, Father!” Pinaire, the son of Barbara Pinaire of Derby, started working at the Diner after Labor Day. His assignment ended last Thursday. “It’s been a great experience,” he said. “I didn’t really know what to expect when I started. I knew we served a lot of people every night … but I didn’t really have a full grasp of what it was like.” Pinaire said working at the diocesan ministry “opened my eyes, not only to the immense amount of charity and gratitude – charity of the volunteers that come to work here, but actually the gratitude of many of the guests who come to eat.” His stint at the Diner has been an inspiration for his vocation, he added. As the result of his interaction with the patrons he not only better understands the pain of the poor, he has experienced their desire for love and for Christ.
“One day I’ll be ordained and be able to actually express that love through the sacraments and through my example as a priest,” he said. Pinaire added that when he is wearing his clerics, the attire priests also wear, people come up to him and asked him to hear their confession. He declines and explains why he cannot, of course, but he adds: “In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, if only I could. So in that way, it’s really given me a stronger desire to be a priest, to spread the love and grace, to be able to bless people.” Pinaire said his summer job also helped him better understand the poor. “These are good people just trying to make it in the world,” he said. “I’ve met some great families, some very loving people, people who love God and who are devout Catholics and want to do good and want to work and want to provide for their family, but for whatever reason have gotten a string of bad luck.” “It’s been a great experience!” he said, adding that the volunteers and staff at the Diner were part of the reason for his wonderful time there. Pinaire will take a short break before returning to seminary for the fall semester. Father Michael Simone, director of Vocations for the Diocese of Wichita, said there’s a good reason the seminarians don’t get to take it easy for three months. “During the summer, our seminarians are engaged in various forms of work,” he said. “It helps them to understand the value of punching a time clock and what it takes to earn a living.”
Want to help feed the hungry? The Lord’s Diner, a ministry of the Diocese of Wichita, has two locations in Wichita: Broadway and Central and 2825 S. Hillside. Both locations serve a hot meal nightly at no cost to the patrons. To make a donation to feed the hungry, or to volunteer, call (316) 266-4966, email
, or write to Director Jan Haberly, 520 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS 67214-3504.