Every Friday, students meet for homeless ministry in the common room at St. Thomas Aquinas. We believe service is not fruitful if it is not rooted in prayer and love of God, so our time together beings with a rosary at 2:15PM, offered for all who are poor, homeless, hopeless, or lonely, as well as the individual intentions of the students present.
Afterward, we make sandwiches and carpool to Charlottesville’s downtown mall, where we gather together in prayer, invite the Holy Spirit into our conversations and encounters, and offer our time to Him. From there, we split into small groups with our paper bags of food, water and other necessities and walk the mall and side streets.
When we come across someone on the street, we start a conversation, usually by offering a sandwich. The paper bag, however, is not the end of our ministry, only the means. The bag is simply a segue into an encounter – giving a handshake, learning a person’s name, looking them in the eye, talking with them, and listening.
At the end of our time downtown, we reconvene, debrief, and pray before returning to St. Thomas around 4:30-4:45PM.
Contact Caroline Wack at [email protected] with any questions!
“The greatest disease in the West today… is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.” -St. Teresa of Calcutta
The goal of homeless ministry is not to give out paper sacks.
Many services already exist in Charlottesville to provide food, clothing, and shelter to those in need. Our mission is not so much a material one as a spiritual one: to address the longing of the human heart for relationship & to show others their dignity as tenderly loved children of the Father.
In a culture of indifference, we have a call to compassion. This call compells us to not just walk by. It reminds us that every person before our eyes is someone fashioned by the same God who fashioned us, and is therefore a member of our family. This call reminds us that every person is someone for whom Jesus accepted nails in His hands and feet. He dwells within each human being, but dwells in a special way in the poor: “amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt. 25:40)
We go to the downtown mall every Friday because He is there in the people we encounter. As we meet Him in our friends downtown, He meets our hearts as well.
MORE LOCAL SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES
Interested in also getting involved with other local service opportunities, like elderly ministry? See the face of Christ in those you serve and those you serve with!
Contact Nora Shanahan at [email protected] for more information!