By Manolito Jaldon,
St. Brendan Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation
Confirmation candidates in the Saint Brendan faith formation program recently served at an emergency shelter for single mothers and their children in downtown San Francisco. I am deeply grateful to Maureen Kosewic, who organized the faith formation families to serve at Raphael House last Saturday.
Raphael House was established in 1971 as the first homeless shelter for families in Northern California. Over the years, the organization has served over 20,000 at-risk families by helping them to achieve stable housing, financial independence, stronger family bonds, as well as a deeper sense of personal dignity and worth. Without any government funding, Raphael House has realized unparalleled success, with up to 85 percent of its families finding long-term housing and attaining real financial security.
Volunteer administrative coordinator for Raphael House, Kellen Sarver, first took the confirmation candidates on a tour of the facility, including the playroom for toddlers, family kitchen, and community library. As we made our way to the rooftop, we caught a glimpse of some of the living spaces where Raphael families actually live.
The candidates, along with their parents, then helped to prepare the facility for its upcoming Harvest Festival. They pulled weeds on the rooftop garden, traced leaves onto construction paper, made pumpkin decorations, and even sketched out a scarecrow.
It was a wonderful Theresian exercise! The great Catholic doctor, Saint Therese of Lisieux, believed that we should do small things with great love. Doing these little things to help the residents of Raphael House prepare for their Harvest Festival was an act of love by our teens that, in some small way, helped to transform a facility into a warm and inviting home for the holidays.
After the visit to Raphael House, I had to dash over to a friend’s wedding. A thought came to my mind and heart, as I transitioned to another event. When two people come together in the Sacrament of Matrimony, they create a domestic Church, in which children are reared, educated, and nurtured in the faith. Through the bonds of Matrimony, they help their children to value the things that Christ valued, to love the things that Christ loved. This is the truest imitation of Christ.
One of Christ’s greatest concerns was for the poor. Indeed, he could not have identified himself more with the poor, when he said, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35).
There is a great need to care for the homeless in San Francisco. In fact, family homelessness increases each year by ten percent. Because service is at the heart of our Confirmation program, we will continue to give our youth the opportunity to meet Christ face-to-face in service to them. For that is where Jesus is! Let us continue to foster this value in our own domestic churches.
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