At the end of another Church Year, I reviewed my mission in this series. Much has happened during the past 2 years.
I would welcome your comments/suggestions for moving forward.
The Vincentian Family is committed to a collaborative worldwide effort to eradicate homelessness by 2030. We can only get to 2030 by looking at homelessness in 2020. One of the major initiatives is an ambitious project called the 13 Houses project, We must begin by understanding the pastoral needs and structural initiatives in 2020.
I have spent most of my priestly life in a series of heavily administrative positions. As Provincial I saw the enormous creativity and commitment of my confreres to many wonderful projects. One of the costs of being provincial was that I rarely had an opportunity to pursue a project myself.
Last February, Fr. Bob Maloney and I asked each other what a 13 Houses Project might look here in Philadelphia. How could the Eastern Province become involved in the 13 Houses Project of the Vincentian Homeless Alliance? Since the earliest days, our team has come to include Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, past President of DePaul University, Mary Jo Hoag CEO of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal (CAMM), David Foster of the Bastogne Group and Roseanne Haggerty of Community Solutions. We have been meeting with a lot of folks involved in service with the homeless in the city of Philadelphia.
It has been a fascinating learning experience that led me deeper than ever into understanding this many-faceted problem. I have been struck by the paradox of homeless people being both invisible even as they are, sometimes annoyingly, visible to passersby. I began to explore more deeply the practical issues regarding homelessness in a way that I never before had an opportunity to do.
In this New Year, I have been invited to share some of what I have learned. Many have expressed interest in the project so maybe we can begin share each other’s wisdom on the issue.
Along the way, I discovered a source with very practical insights into the myths and realities of homelessness and how it affects people’s lives and the communities they live in. Moving forward I would like to share with you some of what I have learned about people who are homeless and what it takes to addresses immediate needs and root causes.
In this series, I hope to share insights I have gained into questions such as
- The importance of making eye contact with a person
- Common myths about homeless people
- The many different and unrecognized forms of homeless,
- What people advise to never say … or to say… to a homeless person
- The fact that seniors age faster and die sooner than their housed counterparts
- How homeless persons cope when discharged from a hospital after major surgery
I hope we can also give you a window into the process of trying to address the housing needs right here in Philadelphia.