By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Two old men are sitting on a park bench in the Danish countryside. A car stops. The driver steps out, approaches the men and politely asks in German, for assistance. The men shrug and shake their heads. The drive asks again, this time in French. No answer. He asks a third time in English. Still no answer. Frustrated, the man drives away.
After a while, one old-timer says to the other, “I wish I could speak a second language.” “What for?” chuckled his friend. “That guy spoke three languages, and it didn’t help him oen single bit.”
The body language of a smile. The power of a smile. A smile at the check-out counter. A smile at an intersection. A smile in the classroom. A smile in church. What happens in return? Oh, the powerful grace of a smile. A smile filled with hope.
On a cold winter morning a husband took his wife and son to McDonalds for breakfast. The three of them were standing in line, waiting to place their order, when suddenly, several people groaned and stepped out of line. As the wife was checking the menu on the wall she wondered why the commotion. Just then she smelled a foul body odor. She turned and standing directly behind her were two poor homeless men. One was short,, with dky blue eyes. The taller man gazed off in the distance. but both had a bright smile on their lips. The shorter man greeted the woman with “Good day.” The woman responded with a polite “Oh, Hello.”
The short man began counting a few coins in his hand. The other man, stood behind his friend, wringing his hands. Both men were cold and were hoping to warm up with a cup of coffee.
The two men took their coffee to the back of the restaurant. They sat in the last booth. The woman at the counter, waiting to receive her order. looked around the restaurant. It seemed everyone was now watching her. Probably wondering what she would do. The woman smiled at all the patrons, then turned to the young girl behind the counter and ordered two more breakfasts on separate trays.
She carried two trays to the two men, placed them in front of them, padded the hands of both men and said, “Enjoy.” The short man looked up with tears in his eyes, said, “Thank you madam.” The woman leaned over and said “Don’t thank me. Rather, thank God, for God is here working through me to give you hope.”
The husband had watched his wife’s every move. When she returned to their booth, her husband smiled and said, “That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope.”
During the month of March we will direct our attention to Catholic Worker House on Nolan Street. Many homeless men, like those in the story above, visit Catholic House each day. There they find acceptance, dignity and respect with a smile.
The Catholic Worker House is not associated with the Archdiocese of San Antonio nor with the Catholic Charities. The Catholic Worker House and Movement was founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933. Its aim is to “live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ. When Pope Francis visited Philadelphia he mentioned four great people who worked for justice: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.
One of its guiding principles is hospitality towards those on the margin of society. To this end, the movement claims over 213 local Catholic Worker communities providing social services. Each house has a different mission, going about the work of social justice in its own way, suited to its local region.
The Catholic Worker House has been in San Antonio since 1985. the house welcomes homeless men. Men only. It operates on the good will of so many people as they volunteer and make donations. The mission of the Catholic Worker House is: ‘Home, Hope and Hospitality Of The Heart To Those In Need.’
Since 2012, Dr. Chris Plauche has been the director of Catholic Worker House San Antonio. Each morning you can find Dr. Chris participating a Holy Mass in St. Gerard’s chapel. She, along with eight full time volunteers (No one is paid at Catholic Worker House) provide a daily ministry to homeless men. College students provide part time help. A few adult volunteers help out with the shopping, preparing meals, servind and washing dishes. Adult volunteers are always welcome.
Each day the Catholic Worker House feeds approximatedly 250 homeless men. Much of the food is donated by many restaurants around town.
During March we welcome donations to help with the ministry at Catholic Worker House. At the back of the church you will find ‘Catholic Worker’ boxes. We are inviting parishioners to donate some of the basic toiletries, detergents and sanitizers, clothes and paper products that these men need.
And, whenever you pass Catholic Worker House on Nolan, stop in for a visit. You will see what these people are doing for the homeless in our community.
Some people have so much insomnia these days they can’t even sleep on the job.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.