"I'm just a few feet away from…"
Sister Thérèse DelGenio
We have all seen them. Sometimes in the near distance. Sometimes up close. Homeless women, men and children. And in our own city.
Maybe it’s on a street corner. Maybe on a park bench, or in the muddy lee of a bush. We move away. I move away. In moving away, I am safe. And I am ashamed.
The Good Samaritan, on seeing the man by the side of the road, bore him up. He put him on his donkey, carried him to the inn and paid for his keep.
I have done none of these things. But let me tell you of someone who does. Sister Thérèse DelGenio. For example:
Jill and Brian live in a tent. They have two children. The tent goes up and comes down—often. They can’t be discovered. They move from one highway loop to another. They are deep in the sumac and horseweeds. You wouldn’t know they were there.
|CC Image courtesy of Susan Smith on Flickr|
But Sister Thérèse does. She visits often. When she arrives they sit on the floor of the tent. A battery-operated lantern rests in the middle, a Bunsen burner beside it, and cots are around the sides. Sister Thérèse, pulling from bags, brings food and clothing.
This is happening now, today.
Jill and Brian work minimum-wage jobs. They’re trying for the deposits on an apartment: the security deposit, the electric deposit, the water deposit. But something always comes up. Bus cards need to be purchased, their hours at work are reduced, the children need clothes and school supplies.
So, for a short period of time that becomes longer, the family lives in the tent—and they are homeless.
Were I to see Jill and Brian on the street, I would not know their story, just as I don’t know the stories of the others who are homeless and who I meet.
But who—surely—have stories just as poignant.
I am so glad Sister Thérèse is there for those such as these. I am so glad she helps them with applications for apartments and better-paying jobs, and that she meets with landlords, and with the electric company, and the water company.
Sister Thérèse works without a salary. She, and her Sisters, simply want to go where they are needed. It’s why, in the season of Christmas, I’m writing on their behalf. I want their ministry to those who are homeless, to those by the road, to continue.
St. Julie said to have hearts as wide as the world. I always thought she was speaking of countries and continents. Actually, she was speaking of only a few feet: the distance to reach out one’s hand to another who has fallen.
Your gifts change lives. They give people a safe place to live, put food on the table, have sent children to school. Because we receive no support from any diocese, we rely on you.