There follows a speech which I made this morning at the 7:45 a.m. eucharist at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL
"There are no homeless in Sarasota County. There are homeless people. In 2009, three thousand, two hundred and seventy six people were served at Resurrection House, the day shelter for homeless people in downtown Sarasota.
It’s a place where our laundry can be done; where we can get a shower; where we eat, or have our hair cut, or get basic medical care. It’s a place where we can get clothing, and counseling, and emergency food supplies. It’s a place where we pray.
It’s always “we” and not “they”, for there are no homeless, there are only homeless people.
At Resurrection House we will meet the dozen or so St. Boniface folks who are amongst the 180 regular volunteers.
We Boniface folks frequently promise to respect the dignity of every human being. That promise is fulfilled in our encounters with homeless people.
The guests at Res. House are every bit like the members of this parish. Some of them are downright angry, mean, ornery or greedy. Others are overflowing with generous love and tenderness.
Res. House receives no federal, state, county or city funding. That allows us to do without a great deal of red tape, and causes us to rely on the generosity of God’s people. Check out the “Giving Tree” in the parish hall to see where God is calling you to share in our ministry. I’ll be there to chat with you.
Cathy (not her real name) was very reserved towards me when she first met. She’d always be with Jim, her “old man”. Sometimes she seemed to be afraid, and sometimes she seemed to be, shall I say, less than sober. Then she decided not to drink. She and Jim began to share in our weekly prayer service.
One day she asked me for a hug. She began to cry. She spoke. “You”, she said, “ apart from Jim, are the only man I’ve allowed to hug me. I was sexually abused by my father, and I find it hard to trust men”.
Cathy and Jim are not often to be seen at Res. House these days. But the week before last she stopped by to tell me that Jim had gotten a job, that he had worked steadily for six months, and that they had a small apartment.
I like to think that the respect we offered to Cathy and Jim helped them to re-discover their God-given dignity. That’s exactly why we minister at Res. House, and its exactly why we come to this fine parish every week.
Seeking and serving Christ in all others, at Church and at Res. House."