Arts Highlight “Year for the Homeless”

by | Feb 11, 2021 | Formation, Homelessness, Reflections

Our Sunday Visitor reports on how the arts are being used to raising awareness of homelessness.
The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship in the San Francisco Archdiocese Feb. 4 launched a “Year for the Homeless,” which includes calling people to prayer, commissioning a special requiem Mass and holding a series of fundraisers via Zoom to help the homeless.
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone called the institute’s yearlong focus on the homeless innovative for “combining prayers, charity and new creative endeavors to touch the Catholic imagination with the profound reality of the equal dignity of every human soul.
The OSV story continues with highlights of other artistic ventures raising awareness.
A few years ago, Frank La Rocca. was commissioned by San Francisco’s Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption to compose a special “Mass of the Americas” as “a simultaneous tribute” to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast days are Dec. 8 and Dec. 12, respectively.
Celebrated at the cathedral for the first time Dec. 8, 2018, the Mass includes music in Spanish, Latin, English and Nahuatl, the Aztec language Mary used when she spoke with St. Juan Diego in Mexico in the 16th century.
La Rocca’s “Requiem Mass for the Homeless” will be celebrated for the first time Nov. 6 with the Benedict Sixteen Choir, led by the world-renowned conductor Richard Sparks.
The institute also has commissioned a new painting, “The Patron Saints of the Homeless,” by San Francisco painter Bernadette Carstensen.
“With this new painting, we can set up a shrine for Mass attendees to pray for the homeless, and which can travel to other cathedrals as well,” said Maggie Gallagher. executive director of the Benedict XVI Institute,
A number of other sites have posted an overview of patrons of the homeless and their feast days.
  • St. Josephine Bakhita, patron saint of human trafficking, Feb. 8;
  • St. Benedict Joseph Labre, who took up the Franciscan call to live as the homeless did and died of starvation on the streets of Rome, April 16;
  • St. Anthony of Padua, for whom “St. Anthony’s bread” — a traditional gift to the poor — is named, June 13;
  • St. Maximilian Kolbe, a martyr of charity and patron saint of addicts, among others, Aug. 14;
  • St. Teresa of Kolkata, who served “the poorest of the poor,” Sept. 5;
  • St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the poor, Oct. 4.
The institute plans a series of fundraisers via Zoom for ministries working for the needy, centered on the feast days of these patron saints, Gallagher said.
The first event kicks off Feb. 8, St. Josephine Bakhita’s feast day. A preliminary sketch of the saint will be auctioned off to raise money for Children of the Immaculate Heart, a San Diego ministry that shelters and supports survivors of sex trafficking.
Gallagher said 100% of the funds raised by the “Year for the Homeless” Zoom events will help “those assisting the homeless and other needy populations.”
The motto for the year is “‘Pray. Love. Sacrifice. Create.’ 
More information about the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship and its “Year for the Homeless” can be found at


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