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12
Mar

Denver Headlights 2022: Day 4

Fatima:

Today we started the day with morning prayer and mass at 7 am, I need to say that it has been hard to wake up at 5:30 everyday but being able to start the day with saying thanks to God for letting me wake up and receiving him in the Holy Communion is just amazing. My day just gets better when I am able to talk and listen to what he need from me in that day, and personal prayer has given me the opportunity to pray the Rosary filled with the love of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Street ministry today was my favorite, after three days I was finally able to make a connection with someone: Howie, a very smart man. We talked about everything, about his childhood, family, and dreams. We were even able to joke around and he let me quiz him on geography of the United States. I didn’t even realize that two hours went by and we had to leave. It makes me sad to realize that I do not know when I’ll be able to meet him again but I will keep praying for him no matter what, and for every single friend that I made this week. The friendships that I have found through God in this trip have opened my eyes to find my purpose and understand what God is asking for me: to love everyone.

After lunch, we went on a hike, which was quite an experience. After walking so much the last couple of days, going for a long and cold stroll was the last thing on my mind, yet I took the time to talk with new people, take pictures and even meditate and pray the Rosary on my own. It was to my surprise that this hike is where I found God the most, while I was talking to him and walking in silence, I did not feel alone but at peace. I knew he was with me, as well as the Virgin Mary holding my hand and keeping me warm. The night just kept getting better, all of the Carroll students went out for dinner and ice cream for a great bonding time.

I am so glad that I decided to come to this trip, where I found God, new friends and a life changing experience. Thank you Christ in the City!

Cheyanne Hannaman

Last night I got to do night ministry which was by far the best part of my trip so far. It was from 7:00-8:30. We still have one day left, but I feel as though it would be hard to beat the experience, I had last night. I went to a place that they call The Network. It is a small coffee shop where the homeless are welcome to gather. The missionaries go there and play music for them. At first, I was a little nervous to be in an enclosed space, and worried about making small talk. But throughout the week I have been repeating Joshua 1:9, which is “Be strong and Courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. I take this verse with me everywhere and throughout this week it has been relevant and helpful. I walked into the network not sure what to expect, and it was very weird at first. We all shuffled in, unsure of what was really expected of us. Our friends on the streets were pretty unphased by us, but we started to move away from the door. Me and two girls from Pittsburgh went to this one guy and were immediately pushed away. At that moment I wanted to quit, I felt the room get dark, and only focused on how we (I) was unwanted, my fear started to consume me, but I looked around the room and took a breather. I reached for my necklace as a reminder of Joshua 1:9.

        We then gathered as a group not having mush luck and decided to break up into different groups. I was with Nathan. I followed him to a table with 3 men and pulled up a seat. I, still getting a feel of the room let him take the lead. We had an interesting talk with Grey, while the other two ended up shuffling out. I put in a few comments here and their but followed the lead of the conversation. Then we had Robert join the table, and Nate added him to the conversation. Without even thinking about it, we ended up into two different conversations. I talked with Grey and Nate talked to Robert. It ended up feeling so natural, and what felt like 15 minutes ended up being an hour and a half. The missionaries talked about the homeless as their friends on the streets throughout the week, and I saw that with them, but I never truly felt that friendship until I met Grey. I can now say that I have friends on the street, or at least one friend! I hated saying goodbye, and wanted to stay, but unfortunately it had to come to an end. But I would like to tell you two things that Grey told me. One, never be boring enough to choose a basic favorite color, his was Periwinkle blue. The other thing, that I really took to heart was “you can cry, you can try, or you can lie (either lie down, or lie to someone). If you choose to cry you die, if you lie down you die, if you lie to someone you die, so all you can do is try, even if you don’t succeed you tried and you will survive. so, you have to try.” At the time this made sense to me from his perspective, but the more I reflect on it, I have found a much deeper meaning to it. If all you do is cry you won`t get to see the beauty of life, you`ll walk though life only seeing the negatives, and not noticing what God has given us, and all the good things he wants for us we will miss, because we are too focused on everything going wrong. If we lie to someone or even ourselves, we are damaging our souls, unable to fully receive Jesus and if we lie down and shut off our brains and just walk-through life as almost a robot, then we will not become our full self’s. God has called us to something bigger than ourselves, and all He askes of us is that we try. Trying can look like what we do at Christ in the City with waking up early and having 3 hours dedicated to prayer, but it can also look like reading your Bible everyday or praying, but when we fail, (which we will at one point because we are human) we need to go again, we need to try again. At whatever it is God Is calling us to all He asks is that we try, and he will provide for us. I have decided to take the extra effort to try. To try to follow the plan that Jesus has for me and to trust that He has me, no matter what. I`m not sure that I will ever meet Grey again, but I can say he has changed me for the better. I love my friend on the street and will never forget that day at The Network.   

       The next morning, we walked the streets, and I was able to develop more relationships with my friends on the streets, none quite as powerful as the one with Grey, but all meaningful and wonderful. We then went on a hike (which was more like a walk). It was a great time to talk to the wonderful people that came to Christ in the City with me, and to reflect on the events that took place. After the hike we ended getting ice cream, and just ending the day on a truly high note. I loved being at Christ in the City and wouldn’t have changed it for the world. The late nights and early morning with only 3-4 hours of sleep, the freezing cold weather where my toes froze, and the idea of bedbugs crawling all over you, it was all worth it because the positives were far superior. This was an experience of a lifetime, one that I will never forget, and will always hold close to my heart. 

Love, Cheyanne Hannaman

10
Mar

Denver Headlights 2022: Day 3

Molly:

Hello!

Today was full of laughter, exhaustion, wonderful conversations, and so many graces! The day started out really early with morning prayer, mass, and adoration. It was a really beautiful way to start the morning, even if part of me wanted to go back to sleep! After getting back, we ate breakfast and then prepared for lunch in the park! This is something that Christ in the City does every Wednesday where we prepare food for all of our friends on the streets and share a meal with them in one of the parks in the middle of the city. Some people were cooking the food, some were getting the vans ready to carry all of the coolers to the park, and others began to set up an assembly line for building the lunches, which is what I got to help with. When the food was cooked and the music was turned up, we packed the coolers, had a spontaneous dance party, and got bundled up to have lunch in the park!

Lunch in the park was a very cold, snowy but beautiful display of the community that Christ in the City has created. Seeing so many friends come to the park to share a meal, have a good conversation, and just enjoy each other’s company was such a blessing to be a part of. In the midst of the wind and snow, I quickly began to recognize how blessed I am to be able to warm up inside, since most of our friends don’t have that ability. The joy that was expressed from our friends on the streets because of something as simple as a warm meal was inspiring! Getting the chance to talk to some of our homeless friends is a gift, especially when they light up about the things they are passionate about.

We quickly transitioned from lunch in the park into Marian groups. While there were many graces that came from this, what happens in Marian group, stays in Marian group.

Later in the evening, I got to go to a women’s shelter that houses around 200 women. When we got there, we quickly jumped in to help serve dinner. It was so wonderful to experience the excitement of the women as we were preparing their food. Many of them had short little conversations with us as they walked through the line and it was cool to see their faces light up when asking simple questions like “What is your name?” and “How has your day been?” It was very easy to see Christ in these women through their joyful attitudes and smiles as well as in their suffering. When we were done serving food, the Christ in the City team led a Bible study with about 6 women from the shelter. These women were on fire for the Lord and they knew their identity in Christ. Getting to listen to their prayers, perspective on the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son, and their witty banter was amazing. These women have such an intense faith in the Lord and are so confident in the Father’s love for them, it is truly inspiring. One friend started talking about how much the Lord has blessed her and protected her. Regardless of whatever situation led her to the shelter, she still trusts in the Lord’s plan and chooses to focus on all of the blessings in her life. Reading and meditating on the Prodigal Son from the Gospel of Luke, the women were eager to share about their life experiences and their love for God with us. Getting to relate to one another through this story proved, once again, that we aren’t very different from one another. In the mist of these struggles, the women living in this shelter are desiring a relationship with God and others, similarly to each of us.

This week so far has shown me, in a deeper way, the human dignity in each person, especially those on the streets, and how important it is to restore and protect it. Each person that I have encountered has taught me something different like how to more deeply trust in the Lord, how to better receive love, and how to embrace the cross in the midst of suffering in order to find joy with Christ. The Lord works in beautiful but mysterious ways and I am excited to see how He continues to bless this trip!

Ana:

Hi friends! This morning we were up and at’em bright and early, starting off our day as every day starts here at Christ in the City with praying the liturgy of the hours and then spending a holy hour in adoration. This morning was extra special as between the two we celebrated Mass. While a whole lot of Jesus in the morning is the best way to start the day, I’ll be the first to admit it was a challenge trying not to fall asleep during adoration, as it was still pretty early in the morning and this girl had not had her coffee yet. Next on the schedule was breakfast, and I was absolutely blessed to be able to spend mine talking with Rachel, one of the first year missionaries here at Christ in the City. I was graced with our beautiful conversation about the healing power of tears, brokenness and how we approach ours, and how our wounds are healed, but remain open like Our Lord’s do. 

After breakfast it was go time, and quickly the house was abuzz with everyone doing their part to prepare for our Lunch in the Park (or as it’s known here at Christ in the City L.I.P). I was part of the kitchen team, heating up casseroles as well as corn and baked beans that were then made into meals and packed up to bring to our friends. It was such a beautiful, yet humbling experience to bring these warm meals to our friends in the snow. To see the joy on their faces at simply receiving a warm meal and drink, or a pair of hand warmers while also knowing that after a few hours I would be returning to a warm building to spend the rest of my day, while our friends would be returning to our attempting to find their shelter for the night brought up such conflicting feelings in my heart. To know we brightening their day and bringing joy to their lives by providing a meal and sitting to encounter them in conversation while they ate was so encouraging, but my heart broke to think that I would be safe and warm in a building tonight while they would be struggling to find all those aspects, and there was nothing I could say or do that would change that reality. It was such a gift to encounter more of our friends during L.I.P though, and to be able to provide for them in our small ways.

After L.I.P. wrapped up, we returned to the house to eat some lunch (if we hadn’t while at the park) and to spend some time together as a community before breaking out into our Marian groups. Marian groups are a smaller community within the community here made up of only men or women where conversations are able to go deeper and feelings can be discussed in a small and safe space. They are something the missionaries here at Christ in the City participate in every week, and I was so grateful for where our discussion led us and how willing we all were to be vulnerable as our smaller community of Carroll girls here on this trip.

After a little more free time, where I got to say a rosary with some of the awesome girls here with the Pittsburgh crew as well as their leader, Fr. Peter, those of us assigned to Wednesday headed out for night ministry. Night ministries occur on Wednesday and Friday nights and encompass everything from leading youth groups, encountering friends at different indoor locations, and accompanying friends (taking them out for a meal or coffee). My group of women headed to a nearby women’s shelter to sit and encounter friends and to lead a bible study, as well as play games with them. It was such a beautiful gift to have these women recieve me and the conversations I sought with them, when they had no reason to.They didn’t know me or need to share with me about their life, joys, and struggles but they shared so willingly and freely, and it was such a gift to receive that from them. While some of the other women in our group got some games going, Maddie and I led a bible study with six friends in a separate room. We discussed the story of the Prodigal son and how we could relate to the story and the sons in it. Once again I was taken aback by the way these women poured out their hearts, feelings, and stories to Maddie and I, sharing how they’ve experienced God in their lives and how they continue to keep faith, no matter their situations. I felt so unworthy, yet so incredibly honored to be sitting there and receiving all this, as well as their love for what Maddie and I were doing, it was incredibly humbling.

Our friends, both in shelters and on the streets, have some of the strongest faiths and deepest insights I have ever encountered in my life. This week I have constantly been learning from the ways they walk with Our Lord, and I have encountered Christ in so many different faces.

We headed back to the house for a quick dinner before heading to wrap our day up with night prayer, consisting of a thankfulness rosary and liturgy of the hours. The thankfulness rosary is one of my favorite parts of our day, where on each bead that would normally be a Hail Mary someone thanks God for a gift in their life that day, and we say Glory Be’s on what would normally be the Our Father beads. I love getting to hear all the ways our community is encountering Christ and experiencing His love, whether it be through each other, our friends, something as simply as the sunshine, or even things we wouldn’t think to be thankful for, like how He allows us to be wounded or opens our eyes to the ways we desperately need Him. This week has stirred up so many things in my heart, but one of the biggest themes has been this idea of receptivity, what it means to be received and to be received and how we through love are able to do both. I cannot wait to dive deeper into this theme the rest of the week here at what is so fittingly called a “school of love” by the missionaries here.

L.I.P. Assembly Line!
The Other L.I.P. Assembly Line!
Molly, Chris, and Chris prepping some great meals 🙂
Molly and Ana (and a couple of our C.I.C. missionary friends…)
8
Mar

Denver Headlights 2022: Day 2

Hailey

Hello all! 

              Today has been a long and tiring, yet beautiful day.  We started the day with morning prayer at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.  After prayer, I had the privilege to cook breakfast for the other retreatants and the missionaries hosting us.  From the food donated this week we were able to make breakfast sandwiches, bacon and even had some strawberries which was a real treat.  After breakfast, we all got ready and headed out to the streets to meet some of our homeless friends.

              The first place my group visited was a set of tents located under a bridge.  We stopped at each tent offering socks, gloves or water.  There was a couple living in one of the tents and we were able to have a good conversation with them.  Kim had a little dog she introduced us to named Diamond.  After the tents, we walked down several streets where shelters, missions, and other services were located.  We met several different people and talked to them about the weather and where they were from or if they liked certain things about the city.  One encounter was particularly tough for my group today.  A friend was sitting in a wheelchair outside of one of the missions.  She had various items laying all around her on the sidewalk.  She was talking to us but in a way that was mostly incoherent.  The goal of street ministry is to try and make the homeless feel both seen and heard.  It made me very sad to see this woman in her pain but be unable to communicate with her.  Eventually we simply had to move on and engage other friends in the area.

The last place we stopped on the street walk was the St. Francis Center.  Many friends were at the center today and were outside enjoying the sunshine. One person outside of the building was a long-time friend of Christ in the City.  He was so happy and excited to share with us how he had recently received housing and would soon be able to start helping out some of his family members.  My high point of the day came shortly after this encounter.  A woman named Braids came over to us and she was playing some bluesy-jazz music.  She had a big smile on her face and was dancing down the sidewalk saying hi to all of her friends.  Soon after meeting, I found myself dancing with Braids as we started to get to know each other.  She told me how all her friends hang out at the St. Francis Center and she gets to see them all the time.  They recently had to move their hang out location from the parks but were still able to retain their community at this new spot.  Braids told me she was the person who always brought the party; it wasn’t a party unless she was there.  She also shared with me things about her family and friends and the ways she was able to care for them as we bopped and swayed along to the music together.

I know Christ was walking with me today, both in the highs and the lows.  I could see His suffering in the woman we could not communicate with.  But I also saw His joy when Braids came over to me dancing and we were able to enter in to a relationship through a common interest.  The people I encountered today have shown me how positive and happy they can be, even in a state where they have seemingly nothing.  They are able to share a simile with you and dance even in the stark face of adversity they wake up to each and every day.  On top of it all, God showed me how those living on the street may be in physical poverty, but not spiritual poverty.

As we continue on this week, I am in joyful anticipation of what else Christ has to teach me and the ways He will call me to go deeper.  I can only imagine what is in store.  I am excited to go where Jesus calls me to and to continue encountering Him in our friends on the street.

Mesi

Hi to everyone who’s reading!

Our second full day is coming to an end here at Christ in the City yet, in some ways, it feels like we’ve been here longer. Today, like every day here on out, started with a morning prayer at a near by church, breakfast, and chores. After that we headed out to the streets in groups for about three hours meeting at the Cathedral at noon. Then lunch, a short lecture on poverty, ‘debriefing’ in our street groups, some free time, dinner, and movie night – which I skipped since I saw the chosen movie just three weeks ago.

Heading to the streets, I tried not to have any expectations other than it being tough to see such harsh conditions up close: Living on the streets, in early March, in Denver Colorado. We started out just after 9 am by walking under a bridge surrounded by driveways, the 20th St. route. Though several tents were up, it was presumably a little early as only two answered our calls; “Hello there, do you need any gloves or water?” etc.

Before going into what I found impactful – experiences, thoughts, conversations – I’d like to name as many people as I can: Kim & Cash and Diamond-dog. Vaughn. Sierra. Adam. Frosty. Braids.

The mission at Christ in the City is to encounter the people without a home as persons, individuals. And while they do keep gloves, water, blankets, granola bars, and the like with them, the main goal is to engage in conversations: to acknowledge, serve, rather than fix. Even though I knew this before going out, even before signing up for the trip, it frustrated me a little more than I thought it would: Going up to someone who barely has enough to survive the day, let alone the cold nights, and starting up a conversation that you know will end in you leaving – how do you not feel useless? Luckily for me, one of the first people we talked to, Vaughn, thanked us for “just being nice to” him saying that even that helped a lot. Even though it was just one person without a home, I will hold onto the hope that others like him also find comfort in conversation alone.

Another encounter that stayed with me was Frosty. He talked a lot, about a lot, and in two different languages. He talked about religions and how they relate to each other, how essentially religions are a way for people to find meaning, purpose, in life. However, at one point Frosty said, “I’ve sinned, that’s why I’m here.”, referring to being on the streets, homeless. Though there is something admirable in taking responsibility for your own actions, I don’t believe any society is equal enough, in terms of opportunity or second chances, that the only one to blame is yourself. In other words: There are too many people who have, without a doubt, violated ethics and laws in worse ways than many of the homeless yet have immense monetary wealth, for me to fully believe that. Still, to end on a lighter note, there is community, joy, hope to be found in the streets as well: Whether its 50+ year old Braids saying they’re the “life of the party” in their family and dancing to bluesy-jazz music; or a puppy dog in a tent with Kim & Cash putting a smile on everyone’s face; or the shyest “thank you” for stopping and talking for a minute from Vaughn.

7
Mar

Denver Headlights 2022: Day 1

Good Evening to whomever finds this blog.

In the beginning, there was Chris and the Carroll Crew. For the past three weeks, we prayed and prepared for our departure to Headlights by looking at Catholic Social Teaching and creating community within our group. After hours of treacherous driving conditions through the great states of Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, Carroll College has finally found themselves in the safety of Christ In The City in Denver. The drive down was quite eventful: musical melodies, subway stop in Buffalo WY, Tokyo Drift on the ice, stopping at Chugwater WY with an assortment of scriptural jellies, and the casual drive through the city of Denver. 14 hours later, we finally pulled into to our new home for the week, greeted with open arms and a nice dinner. Over the next hour, other schools joined arrived including: University of Virginia, Florida Atlantic University, Pittsburg University, and University of Pennsylvania.

After a refreshing sleep, we attended two talks to start our day. The two talks consisted of an introduction to Christ In The City Ministries and love in regards to friendship with others and Jesus. Next on the agenda was a fulfilling breakfast followed by our third talk on how to how to minister on the street. Our holy hour and mass were a nice time to sit down and re-center our lives in preparation for the week.

The main focus for the day was the street tour through part of the city, which was all about introducing us to the environment that the homeless are living in and trying to build an understanding of their situations. The tour was eye-opening and really made us appreciate what we have in our own lives. Our homeless friends have to look for a place to settle each night, but the city doesn’t make it easy for them. Many of these places are isolated and hidden from regular eyes, giving the impression that our friends don’t want to be seen. The thought was heartbreaking and difficult to process. We, as humans, are drawn for social interaction. We yearn to be seen and be acknowledged. We want to be loved. This is was drives our lives. Those on the streets don’t receive any of that. They are looked down upon, disregarded in society, or just plainly seen as a burden to the public well-being. The city does what it can to prevent homeless populations from staying in public areas and whether it be for safety or just to prevent a potential camp spot, so those looking for homes resort to poor living conditions. Some of these areas consist of being under bridges with rough ground or pigeons to one person climbing onto the cables of a bridge to get as far away from people as possible. This is not at all what God wants for His sons and daughters. Jesus came and taught us to love one another with all our hearts, as brothers and sisters. We need to be there for our friends and LOVE them.

The walk made me realize the importance of love and community. It made me realize that we all need to be seen and heard. It made me realize that no matter who I am and what my social status or living status may be, I am a human being with dignity and deserving of love and respect. These people lives lives most of us can’t even imagine or understand. The thought of living each day not knowing where the next meal will be or where to sleep is truly saddening. I am grateful for what God has given me in my life and I know that I need to not take them for granted.

When we have our first day of street ministry, I am looking forward to making connections with our homeless friends. I am prepared to live the way of the Lord as best as I can. I know that we are loved and that God loves us, and I want to make sure that every human being knows this. It is our duty to lift one another up in a loving way and only through our own actions can we make this world a more loving place.

-Nathan Olmes

7
Mar

Denver 2020 Day 4

Thursday was a lot of fun. We went hiking on the Waterton trail. It was beautiful, we saw mountain goats and waded in the snowmelt fed river. It was great to get out of the city for a bit and experience nature. It has been an amazing week and seeing the joy of creation really helps focus our mission in the city. It was a great way to regroup and get ready for our last day of street ministry.

Patrick

5
Mar

Chicago 2020 Day 6

Today was extremely fun, as it was our day to go to school with Srs. Alicia and Stephanie. They teach religion at two different schools, so we split our group up between the two and sat in on their classrooms as they taught throughout the day. Bridget, Britany, and I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with the fourth graders for an hour in the morning, reading with them and helping them with math. While I was prepared for them to struggle a lot (their teacher had let us know some of the children weren’t extremely fluent readers), they ended up doing really well! We then transitioned to experiencing life in Sr. Alicia’s religion class, where we had an amazing time with the children and Fr. Greg. The pastor spends a day or so every month catching up with the kids and leading them in reflection, which is a blessing for sure! A few of the classes were preparing for first reconciliation in just over a week, so we acted out and discussed that sacrament quite a lot. Father had a lot of good reflections, and no talk he gave to the different classes was the same.

One thing I found surprising was how different the examples he gave in his discussions were from those at other parishes and other communities I’ve been in. He talked a lot about violence and the importance of breaking the cycle of sin and violence that exists, especially in the context of forgiveness. It was just a stark realization that the community here is enveloped in the intensity of the poverty and violence that they’ve grown up in. That has been a theme throughout the week, as some of the seniors I talked to on Tuesday mentioned how much the introduction of guns in the neighborhood has changed the society. And yet, there’s still so much hope and strength, especially among the sisters and the children we have encountered this week. I definitely see Christ in the quiet determination that the small community of sisters has, and the joy and resilience of the children as they prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation. I know I will be praying for this neighborhood and the safety of those we’ve met as they continue to face both the joys and challenges of their everyday life.

The other group helped Sister Stephanie. Joining in five religious classes in a day was a lot of fun. I especially remember the moment when I prayed with seventh graders. We did Lectio Divina; Lectio(Read) , Medidatio(Meditate) , Oratio(Pray), and Contemplatio(Contemplate). Pure heart and attitude of students when they ask questions made me realized how God loves us and created each one of us in unique way.

Alex and Saki

Closing Picture

 

5
Mar

Denver 2020 Day 3

Today was our third full day with Christ in the City, and it was quite eventful. The day started with morning prayer and mass at St. Patrick’s Church, followed by breakfast back at the CIC house with all the missionaries and mission troopers (us!). We then spent the next few hours preparing for the weekly Lunch in the Park that Christ in the City puts on. Mission troopers were assigned to all kinds of jobs in preparation for lunch. Rachel and I were assigned to the donations team, where we helped Jude and Angelique pack crates full of men’s and women’s clothes/shoes to bring with us. Then, we headed to the park! As I looked around the park at all the missionaries, mission troopers, and our new friends on the street, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. The moments shared between our new friends were an incredible image of the love we are called to give to others. It reminded me of a classic Father Marc quote, “God loves you exactly where you are, but He loves you way too much to let you stay there.” We are called to love like He loves; we are called to love people right where they are and we are called to bring them higher. It was beautiful to watch and participate in loving people right where they are. After Lunch in the Park, we spent some time with just the ladies and shared our thoughts about authentic friendships and the goodness that comes when we pursue friendships rooted in Christ. We ended the day with night prayer back at St. Patrick’s, adoration at the CIC house, and an hour of praise and worship. As I reflect on our time with CIC thus far, I keep coming back to the profound joy I’ve felt this week, today especially. Joy fell over the entirety of Lunch in the Park and was present in all of the conversations and moments we shared today. What I have come to realize even more after today’s experiences is that when people fix their eyes on Christ and love like He loves, they can easily love others well and bring joy into every encounter.

— Maddy

Today we had an opportunity to serve our friends on the street lunch in the park. What a gift it was to see so many people from different backgrounds gather together and share a meal. I met multiple  people while handing out bananas in the lunch line and as a took a moment to look around I saw so many beautiful encounters and realized that our friends on the street are no different than you or I. Sure, they may have a variety of struggles, but don’t we all?  Each and everyone of us is longing to be called by named and to be loved. It was uncomfortable at first, but when I looked these people on the eyes, I saw Jesus  and heard Him say to me what He said in the gospel passage from Monday, ” Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

— Elizabeth

4
Mar

Chicago 2020 Day 5

Today we were able to serve those who serve every day. In order to make it possible for the sisters to serve their community we assisted in cooking, cleaning, fixing lights, and doing lots of dishes, providing time for the sisters to attend to other work. As our friendships continue to grow, we have enjoyed the conversations that take place during work periods.

Following work we were able to enjoy a nourishing lunch one of the groups crafted with sister Stephanie, consisting of pasta, lettuce, and fruit.

A wonderful part of our afternoon consisted of prayer time in adoration. It is so nice to be able to take some quiet time in order to listen to what God is calling us to do.

Following adoration we traveled down the street to Kelly hall to interact with local children at the YMCA. The afterschool program consisted of varying activities including homework, board games, coloring, and gym games. We were able to connect with Brooklyn who is 9 years old again today. She loved just being able to sit with us and talk, jump rope, and play hand games. It was rewarding  to engage and converse with her and her classmates.

Over the past five day it has been amazing to see how God is working in this community, especially in the faces of community members. Through their love and service ,the sisters have positively impacted the neighborhood and continue to do so every day.

Bright and early tomorrow after mass we will go with the sisters to school and help teach in their class rooms. Thank you for all the prayers!

Payton and Joy

IMG_4356

3
Mar

Chicago 2020 Day 4

Today was a BIG DAY! Starting off with mass, we headed over to the food pantry to assist the sisters in the pantry operations. First, we unloaded and sorted a massive donation of Starbuck’s breakfast items. Our group was split into smaller groups and given specific tasks. Some people packaged meat, while others were in charge of the new check in system. We were given the task of serving coffee and the breakfast items to the neighbors as they entered into the pantry.  After a full morning of serving breakfast, we cleaned up and went down to Kelly Hall to join a group of senior citizens participating in a weekly bible study. We were able to serve them lunch and join in with the meal and their conversation. Next, we took time at the house to relax and reflect before enjoying a holy hour in the chapel in the school. We then returned to Kelly Hall for a short period of time to interact with the kids there. After eating Jimmy’s famous hot dogs, we accompanied Sister Stephanie to the Young Catholic Professionals group meeting. Sister Stephanie was promoting the marathon team the order has created, giving us the opportunity to meet young Catholics in Chicago and listen to Mary FioRito. Mary spoke to the realities a facing the church in this age, specifically related to the consistent life ethics movement.

Serena: I found grace in the conversations that occurred with the senior citizens, I spoke with a woman who experienced great loss in her life recently. She had received the grace of God to turn toward him even more, rather than turning away from the pain she felt.

Brigit: I found grace throughout the entire day. It is incredible the work that is being done here by 11 sisters, 1 brother, Fr. Bob and an entire community that cares. The sheer capacity of the charitable donations given to the pantry and the dedication of the volunteers and sisters to their causes is inspiring and beautiful. The love of Christ is in all of us and I was blessed to see that through all of the individuals we encountered toay.

P.S- If you are interested in supporting an AMAZING cause, sign up to be on the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist of Chicago’s marathon team! The money raised goes to funding the great work that they do.

Peace be with you,

Brigit Croy and Serena Nelson

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3
Mar

Denver 2020 Day Two

This morning we went out on our first street walk and I have already felt such a change in perspective through the different people that we encountered. I feel so privileged to be able to listen to these people’s stories as they are so eager to open up to us. I think the biggest surprise for me was how easily they were able to make themselves vulnerable to us. Having someone just be present with them and listen to them is something that many of these people lack. Being able to sit with these people and converse with them really opened my eyes to some of the fundamental parts of what makes us all human. I’m so looking forward to what God has in store for the rest of this week and I’m so grateful for this opportunity to engage in fellowship with other Christians as well as with a community that I may not have found myself in communication with otherwise.

Abby McDermott