President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust of the First Presidency hosted Catholic leaders in Utah on a special tour of the LDS Church's Deseret Industries Sort Center and Welfare Square Nov. 29.
President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, and President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, learned of the Catholic leaders' interest in the facilities and extended an invitation for the tour. Visiting the hub of LDS humanitarian efforts were Bishop George H. Niederauer of the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese; Monsignor Francis Mannion, rector of Salt Lake's Cathedral of the Madeleine; the Rev. Terence Moore, pastor of the St. Thomas More Parish in Sandy, Utah; and Holy Cross Sister Margo Cain, executive director of Catholic Community Services of Utah.Also representing the LDS Church were Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy, president of the Utah North Area; Keith B. McMullin, managing director of the Church's Welfare Department; and Isaac "Ike" Ferguson, director of Church Humanitarian Services.
"In many humanitarian efforts in Salt Lake City, much good has been accomplished when the various interested groups have worked together in meeting the common humanitarian need," President Monson said after the tour.
The tour began at the sort center, located at 1665 S. Bennett Road (2030 West) in Salt Lake City. There, Lloyd Pendleton, manager of the center, and Ronald V. Campbell, manager of medical and educational services, conducted the tour through the facility, which was established in 1991 to reclaim surplus used clothing, educational and medical supplies for worldwide humanitarian use. In the process of reclaiming and distributing surplus goods, the center provides training for those needing assistance with language and job skills, enabling them to obtain suitable employment.
So far in 1995, the sort center has received 22 million pounds of clothing, enough to clothe more than 20 million people. Shipments have gone to 53 nations, as well as to areas within the United States. Also the center has sent out 105 shipments of medical and educational supplies to 45 nations.
After completing the tour at the sort center, the group visited Welfare Square, located at 743 W. 700 South, where they were greeted by director Kevin Nield. President Monson, President Faust and their guests toured the facility's dairy products area, where they saw cheese and dry milk being packaged. They also visited Welfare Square's Deseret Industries Store, and the bishops' storehouse, where food and dry goods items are provided to those in need through bishops' orders.
Near the end of the tour, the group paused in the visitors center of Welfare Square. There, President Monson pointed out photographs of past directors and called attention to a plaque bearing the objective of the LDS Welfare Plan, as written by President J. Reuben Clark Jr. of the First Presidency in 1936: "The real long-term objective of the Welfare Plan is the building of character in the members of the Church, givers and receivers, rescuing all that is finest down deep inside of them, and bringing to flower and fruitage the latent richness of the spirit, which after all is the mission and purpose and reason for being of this Church."
The tour concluded with the LDS Church leaders and guests being served refreshments, which provided them a sampling of food products made available throughout the storehouse system. Among the food items were cheese, bread, jams, pressed ham, vanilla and chocolate pudding, chocolate milk and fruit juice.
"We share a common interest with people of many faiths in helping those who are in need," President Monson said. "We work cooperatively with them in efforts to feed the hungry and relieve suffering. Members of Salt Lake stakes, on an assigned and rotating schedule, volunteer on Saturdays at the Catholic Church's St. Vincent de Paul Center to prepare and serve food to the homeless and others in need. Since the food prepared on Saturdays comes from the bishops' storehouse, it was only natural that Bishop Niederauer and his associates would have an interest in seeing the storehouse and sort center."
The Deseret Industries Sort Center and Welfare Square provide free tours to the public.