It’s been a slow day for this old brother. There is a head bug going around and we have become good friends. The problem is that when you get one of these colds, you can’t go to the pregnancy centers, because you don’t want to spread it to the parents and children, especially the moms that are expecting. God forbid that they get sick. It’s not only cruel, because pregnant women can take very few medications, but they often lack medical insurance. The largest sector of people are immigrants who are struggling to make it. Because of the restrictions on Medicaid and Food Stamps, they need our help.
We desperately need funds and people to open a house for pregnant women who live in abusive situations. They have no place to go. The existing community resources are over extended. More homes are needed, esepcially a home where pregnant mothers can go with their children. Many homes and shelters have limits on the ages of the children that they can bring with them.
A few weeks ago I received a call from a woman. She was pregnant and had a 12-year old. She had to get away from an difficult situation. No shelter in the metropolitan area would take her, because she had a 12-year old. They don’t take mothers with pre-teens. Br. Peter and I found ourselves trying to find a place for Jesus. He was homeless, just like he was when Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. After six hours of calling, begging and praying, a home became available. St. Joseph, the protector of families came through for us.
The unemployment rate is on the rise. This really concerns me. I want to do something about it, but without more brothers and volunteers, we are very limited. I want to give these people something of Jesus and sometimes, I don’t know where to begin. So . . . as the song from the Sound of Music says, “Let’s go to the very beginning. A very good place to start.” Do you remember that song? It’s the one where Maria teaches the children to sin the Do Re Mi.
We always go to the beginning. We sit and we listen and try to help them find services. We provide clothing, food, counseling and education. We now have a father’s program that is increasing, thanks to the intercessory prayers of St. Joseph. We have put our men’s services in his hands. Since we have done so, the number of men coming to our classes has quadrupled. There are couples who were living together that have now married and are forming families. Some couples have separated, realizing that sex and having children is not the best foundation for a marriage. At the same time, they have committed to working together for the good of their children. A married couple that seemed to be on the verge of divorce is now enjoying days walking through the park, visiting the local mall and spending time talking. These are all signs of St. Joseph working overtime.
I want to invite you to come visit us and spend some time with our families. They are truly wonderful. We do not have a big friary and probably never will have one. We live very simply, according to the spirit of St. Francis who wanted his brothers to live the monastic experience of prayer, obedience and brotherhood among God’s people as itinerant preachers and brothers to all. Therefore, we own nothing, not even a house. We cannot offer the comforts of a traditional monastery or priory. However, like the early Franciscans, we offer you a home with brothers who care about each other, the Church and the poor. We take Jesus to them and find him among them.
Obedience to the Church, the Rule, and the superior, the Eucharist, common prayer and individual prayer is the foundation of the work. Without this, the work ceases to be Jesus’ work. It becomes social work. Think about it and let us know. I look forward to hearing from you.