A Catholic center that cares for the homeless and hungry is receiving a helping hand from the Church and some of its members in Salt Lake City.

The St. Vincent De Paul Center is operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City as a refuge for the poor.It includes a shelter and soup kitchen.

President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the center in a recent speech to the Utah Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers.

"A few weeks ago we learned that the soup kitchen fed the homeless and the hungry on Sunday through Friday," he said.

"I had to ask myself: Don't people get hungry on Saturday as well?"

Accordingly, the Church in February began providing the food for a brunch every Saturday and asking Church members to help serve the brunch.

The chef at the soup kitchen goes to the Church's Welfare Square each Friday and selects the food for the following day's meal.

On Saturday, two volunteers come to the center at 7 a.m. to help prepare the meal.

At 8:30 a.m., six more people arrive and begin wrapping silverware in napkins and preparing the tables.

At 9:30 a.m. about 14 additional people come to help serve the meal.

On March 10, a typical Saturday, the kitchen was a flurry of activity, reminiscent of what goes on at a ward dinner.

The group, ranging in age from 18 up, included members of priests quorums and bishoprics, a Young Men president, a Young Women president, a Relief Society president and a stake mission president.

In about 20 minutes, some 300 people had been served a nutritious, filling meal.

The line stayed open about an

hour. By noon, cleanup had been completed.

"I've been impressed with the Christian spirit among the people who've been invited to come serve," said Pres. Paul E. Koelliker of the Salt Lake Hillside Stake.

Pres. Koelliker is chairman of the Monument Park Region welfare committee, which has been assigned to oversee the endeavor by Elder John K. Carmack of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the Utah Central Area.

"This has been one of the great fulfilling experiences in our stake," Pres. Koelliker said.

"We asked for 20 volunteers, and we've probably got 25. That seems to be the spirit. They are thrilled with an opportunity to demonstrate in a very real way their desire to be charitable and to give of their time."

Narvel Scherzinger, Monument Park Region Welfare Services agent, said one benefit is the opportunity to associate in community service with good people who are not LDS.

"So far, we've had people, outside of the Church assignment, come as volunteers every Saturday.

"Some of them could be Mormons, but I know some are not. They just mix right in with our people."

"And that's really been one of the impressive things about this," Pres. Koelliker added.

"We can work together with other community volunteers in Christlike service."

Brother Scherzinger said those receiving the meals, who include families as well as single men and women, seem appreciative, and many say "thank you" as they come through the line.

The Church leaders work closely with Joe Winterer, director of the center.

They have provided him with a schedule, listing stakes and wards and the dates on which they will be coming.

"It's all booked and scheduled now until May 1991," Pres. Koelliker said.

The service at the soup kitchen illustrates a new procedure implemented a few months ago.

Previously, projects to aid needy people had been under the direct watch care of Church Welfare Services.

The change placed such projects under the direction of stake presidents composing regional welfare committees, with Welfare Services becoming a support arm for the committees.

The Monument Park Region welfare committee will have responsibility for the St. Vincent De Paul Saturday brunch for about 15 months, and then the assignment may be given to another region, Pres. Koelliker said.

The Church also assisted in the reopening of the St. Vincent De Paul Center after the facility burned down in 1984, donating nearly $100,000 toward rebuilding it.

The professional meal preparation facilities at the kitchen were provided by the Church, and commodities from Church reserves have been contributed for meals.

Bishop Glenn L. Pace, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said the Church also recently provided a sound system that the center uses for its non-denominational devotionals.

In November 1987, Catholic Community Services of Utah gave an award to President Monson and the Church for their response to the needs of the homeless.