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Chicago, Day 2, Monday, March 7, 2022

March 7, 2022: A day of preparation and mercy. We woke up in time for 6:30am mass in our little chapel in the retreat center with Bishop Bob, Fr. John, and Fr. Bart. Bishop Bob talked about how the reading, Matthew 25, is one of his favorites. In this passage it speaks about serving others in tangible ways and Jesus says “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:31-46). This was the perfect gospel passage to start off our week of serving our poor neighbors on the streets of Chicago. 

After a medium length breakfast with the Congregation of Holy Cross seminarians, who are also spending their spring break here, we broke into various groups to tackle tasks throughout the retreat center and food pantry to prepare for tomorrow, which is their “day when everyone comes to the mission” (Matt the Seminarian). 

Kenna: My group started the morning with dishes and then moved upstairs to tackle a variety of tasks involving manual labor (i.e. moving chairs and cleaning rooms). After three hours of moving chairs, I got to spend an hour in adoration in the beautiful little chapel downstairs in the retreat center. 

Ray: My group spent the morning preparing the food pantry for tomorrow, stacking beans, macaroni, and soaps, and finding a way to fit all the milk and yogurt into the giant fridge. I spent the morning doing this with the seminarians from the Congregation of Holy Cross and made some small world Catholic connections. It is always good to be reminded of our big Catholic family. 

For lunch we ate ribs/chicken/sausage/fries from some delicious BBQ restaurant. Sister Kate then gave us a tour of the rectory and the Church which Bishop Bob restored with the help of many people in only a year. 

After a nice nap, we headed out to Our Lady of America parish for our first “Mercy Night.” When we got there, we ate dinner with the other volunteers and religious orders who were there to serve. It was such a gift to see the mix of communities coming together to serve together (another representation of our big Catholic family). After dinner, we split into groups to serve. 

Kenna: I had the blessing of getting to walk in the freezing weather through the streets of Chicago inviting people to mass. I was walking with one of the parishioners who only speaks Spanish. The community we were walking through is predominately Hispanic and one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in the city. It was very humbling to walk through this neighborhood and encounter people who gradually became more open to our invite to come to adoration/confession in the church the longer we spoke with them. 

Ray: I simply sat near the front of the church and assisted folks in lighting their votive candles to take up and pray before the monstrance. It was a challenge because 99% of them spoke Spanish, so I really had to be on my game. But I made it through successfully with no fires. It was amazing how many people were there to pray together. 

To wrap it all up, we made it back to the convent and shared with one another about our days, growing as friends, and signed off, ready for bed and a new day of hard work. 

God Bless 

-Kenna & Ray 


Chicago, Day one, Sunday, March 6, 2022


Denver Headlights 2022: Day 2

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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.

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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.

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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


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.



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



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


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



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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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