Luis Enrique, an elderly homeless man who came to America from Nicaragua back in 1999, without his family. He was raised Catholic and accepted the Spanish version of Matt Kelly’s book Resisting Happiness, along with a rosary and guide to praying it.
James, who was born in Taiwan of mixed Chinese and American heritage and is now homeless in Philadelphia. He is extremely articulate and intellectually curious, and asked Nancy many thought-filled questions about the Catholic faith. James talked animatedly with her for more than 45 minutes, and accepted a Bible and religious medal before heading off to the nearby park.
Gary, whom we first met three weeks ago and has been living in Logan Circle for six weeks. Gary lost his three year old son Luke to leukemia on 07 Jul 2018, and his fiancee Amy, Luke’s mother, died exactly one week later from a heart attack. Gary was born and raised in a troubled family in Kentucky, became a nurse working in pediatric oncology, and eventually moved to California. He fell into deep depression after the death of Amy and Luke, and headed eastward to reassess his life. He has all his belongings in a backpack and became so despondent yesterday, his 46th birthday, that he climbed onto the side of the Walnut Street bridge, ready to leap to his death. After resisting the temptation to end his life, he went to Jefferson Hospital for assessment, but they turned him away because he is legally a resident of California and should return there for treatment. I spent more than an hour talking with Gary, got him a cup of coffee, and then headed over to the cathedral to give him a tour. Gary was raised Baptist but listened attentively to my explanations about Catholic theology and worship, and we spent a good half hour in the cathedral before meeting up with Nancy. We showed him how to find Catholic Social Services on Monday at the archdiocesan center at 222 N. 17th Street, and after we got home, Gary sent us an e-mail from a main library computer. He thanked us sincerely for our help, and promised to see help. On Monday, was given a one-way bus ticket back to Los Angeles, and he should reach the west coast by Thursday. He will still need lots of prayers, as he needs to get on his feet and back to work.
Jasmine, who needs help making decisions in her life without the element of fear haunting her whenever she has to act
Pam, who has cancer that was initially misdiagnosed and has a medical malpractice lawsuit starting on Monday. She lives alone in Philadelphia, and also asks for her brother Dwayne
Theodore, who asks for strength in battling addiction
Myer, who asks for a pleasant week ahead
Michael, who is suffering from stomach and colon cancer. We gave him a Bible at his own request, and he promised to go to his church on Sunday.
David, for improvement of his health
(NH) Deacon Mark and Nancy braved the humid Philadelphia weather to go downtown for St. Paul Street Evangelization on Logan Circle last Saturday. Many people were out and about at 930 am, probably trying to beat the worst of the heat coming in the afternoon.
The team met some tourists, many people homeless or living in shelters, and other city/suburban folks. Altogether over 50 blessed medals and rosaries were shared in a two hour span. Here are some stories and prayer requests from the outing:
Early on Deacon Mark met a fellow named Carry. He told of being from Kentucky and now living on the streets of Philly for 3 weeks. He appeared tired and beaten down. Carry spoke of having recently lost his Fiancee to a sudden heart attack. Deacon Mark told of how God is at work even when we don’t feel Him at all. In our depths of suffering, He is always there. They prayed together and Carry was pleased to be given a crucifix to wear and he planned to try to let God show him what to do with his life.
Dee and David were visiting from Australia. They were in Philadelphia for an overnight, having traveled from NYC and heading down to Washington DC the next day. They spoke of a lovely trip to date and friends who told them they must stop in Philadelphia. Dee and David were excitable and pleased to be in our city. To top it off, Dee was exceptionally pleased to be offered a Miraculous Medal. They were Catholic as well, and we pointed out our Cathedral down the street. The couple planned to visit the art museums and walk around town. We told them we were happy they were in to visit our city of brotherly love and we prayed for their safe and healthy travels. They were very thankful.
Frequently people on bikes ride by without any stopping, however, that was not the case with Marshall. Nancy asked as he was pedaling by if he would like a blessed medal or a prayer. Marshall stopped right away, got off his bike and said Yes! I would love to have both! Marshall asked us to pray with him about his finances. He said that he had been at work and was dropping his bike down the street where he could safely leave it, to get a train or bus back to Upper Darby where he has a small studio apartment that doesn’t fit his bike. Marshall told of how he got behind on some bills but made phone calls to the companies and setup payment plans and that he knew it would work out alright. He prays greatly for God to bless him in making it work out alright and making ends meet. We talked about how working out a situation instead of just hoping it will go away is what God wants us to do and that He guides us how to do it always, if we be quiet and listen in prayer. Marshall agreed greatly. He was glad to put on a crucifix and ride off.
Please remember the following people and their intentions in your own prayers:
- Hah ~ for her safety and for the bad men in her apartment building to move elsewhere
- Carry ~ to find permanent shelter and workable life plans
- Dee and David ~ for safe travels and good health
- Marshall ~ to be blessed with resources and plans to make ends meet always
- Pancho ~ to be able to take and pass test for CDL license
- Nathan ~ for guidance and direction in following God’s will
- Steven ~ given a Bible; for open mind and soft heart open to God’s word
- Thomas ~ blessed to have shelter and prays now for better access to food and resources
- Agustin and Antonio ~ Honduran homeless immigrants – for their livelihood, good health and friendship
- Melanie ~ for Joseph’s heart surgery
- Chris ~ Asked to pray for Nancy 🙂
- Joan ~ for her health
- Santiago ~ from Panama, prays to walk the Camino with his wife next year
- Rosalee and Al ~ for shelter and work
- Emanuella and Lawrence ~ for their welfare
- Diane ~ for her peace and care
- Asidiri ~ from Guinea, for his welfare
- Pete ~ an altar server, for good health
Chris, who is homeless and needs food
Elsa, who needs to reconcile with her atheist brother-in-law
Sonny and Eric, who are homeless and need jobs
Winnie, who is homeless
José, who is gravely ill with cancer
Diane and Latoya, who are trying to save money for a weekend getaway with their family
Melvin, who is dying in Temple University Hospital
Kenneth, who is homeless
Mimi, who battling Alzheimer’s
(NH) We were fortunate to have 4 Lower Bucks / Philly St. Paul Street Evangelization team members available to go out on Saturday morning in downtown Philadelphia. The team of Deacon Mark and Rich setup near the Cathedral and the team of Don and Nancy setup down the parkway a bit, across the street from the Franklin Institute science museum. This report is regarding the team of Don and Nancy at the Franklin Institute.
It was quite hot and sunny, but the shade across the street from the museum made it a nice morning for street evangelization. This area is frequented by tourists, homeless people and joggers. We easily gave out over 30 rosaries and 20 blessed medals in two hours. Additionally, having a box of protein bars and extra water helped with corporal needs as well!
Our first encounter was with a young woman named Elizabeth. She was sitting on the curb down the street a bit, playing with her phone, watching us setup our prayer station sign. About five minutes after setup she got up to walk by and we asked her if she would like a rosary. She said yes and we gave her one and a pamphlet on how to pray it. We asked her if she would like us to pray with her and she said yes but told us she didn’t speak much English. We traded in her English rosary “How to Pray” pamphlet for a Spanish one, and lifted Elizabeth and her needs for safety, health and welfare up to our Lord. She left us thanking us greatly.
A young African American man named Nemo came by and when we asked him if he would like a rosary and if he could use a prayer he told us that he had done bad things in life and that he did not think he was the kind of person who God wants to hear from. We spoke to Nemo about how in the Bible we are told that Christ came for sinners and not just for a bunch of good people. We told Nemo about how all of us did some bad things but the great love that Our Father has for every person he creates calls us back again. We asked Nemo if he was regretful of doing the bad things that he has done and Nemo told us yes he was. He told us that it was a good thing we were doing out there with our prayer station and that speaking with us gave him much to think about.
A coincidental encounter happened with a fellow named Hank. When walking by, we asked if he would like a rosary or a prayer, Hank told us no and that he used to be Catholic. He stopped to talk. When asked if he went to Catholic school he stated he did but it was not nearby. Upon further discussion, it turned out that Hank attended the same Catholic high school as Nancy and graduated two years earlier. In addition he lived and grew up down the street in the same small Pennsylvania town as Nancy. We asked Hank if he thought that maybe meeting a couple of Catholics on the street in downtown Philly with a prayer station with one having grown up and gone to school in the same place about the same time as him might be a means by which God was letting him know that He is indeed at work in his life. Hank said no, and that his only god was desire for revenge. He told of many people who had done bad things to him, especially his father and how he only gets satisfaction when he feels he has gotten back at them. Hank did not want to consider the thought of trying to forgive so that he could stop carrying the weight of it. We told him of how sometimes people’s relationships with their own father, when not good, can cause problems relating to the possibility that we have a creator, a Father in Heaven, who created us out of great love. Hank was dismissive of the thought. We asked where all this around us came from and he said factories. Moving on, what about the earth and its atmosphere, and all of the creatures, and the trillions upon trillions of stars? Hank remarked that a big explosion created it all. We asked where the big explosion came from and Hank stated “from nothing”. We wondered why it would be easier to believe that everything came from nothing instead of a loving Father in heaven whose relationship with humanity has been communicated for many thousands of years through history and encounters. Hank left without wanting a prayer and without wanting any book or sacramental. Hopefully Hank left with some food for thought about the possibility of God truly being here and truly loving him.
A family of about 12 came by and they came up to us, telling us that they were in Philadelphia for a family reunion and they would like to pray with us. What a blessing! They were the Brooks family and they had 4 generations with them. It was a great privilege and we shared blessed medals and rosaries with them. When they were leaving the teen girl said do you have a Legion of Mary where you are? She told us that she was a member of the legion where she lived. This was so adorable and here we were giving out rosaries to her!
Finally we were getting ready to pack up and leave. A young well dressed couple came by and said they would love to have a rosary and how to pray it pamphlet. The young woman said she was Catholic. Also they said they would very much like to pray. To our surprise, because of how ‘chic’ they looked, Francesca and Chris told us that they needed prayer for sober living and that they were in recovery. We prayed to Jesus, the divine physician and great healer, for this couple to be healed of any desire to be under the influence, today and everyday of the rest of their lives. May God greatly bless this humble couple and answer their prayers!
Please pray for the following intentions:
- Elizabeth – for her health, well being, and resources
- Nemo – for him to know God’s mercy for him and for him to continue to have strength and reject sinfulness
- May and Will – homeless mother/son – for them to be blessed with getting a home
- Hank – that the Holy Spirit will change his ways from revenge to love
- French family – for their safe and healthy travels
- Gail – for things to get better in her life
- Brooks family – for good health of all the family members and for them to know the love of God in their lives everyday, growing in faith and love
- Francesca and Chris – to never desire to use drugs or alcohol again
- Kamal – for his well being
For the third Independence Day in a row, our group set up our stand along the parade route in Southampton. We began by attending the 9:00 Mass, which readied us spiritually to share our faith with the our fellow citizens. The parade began a few minutes after Mass ended, and all we had to do was gather our equipment and walk less than fifty yards to the end of the church driveway. There were literally hundreds of people lining the street, and we decided to have Nancy stand alongside our display while Don and Mark walked among the spectators to offer them either a rosary or a religious medal. The first few people whom we encountered politely declined the free handouts that we were offering, but before we had time to get discouraged, other families began reacting very positively. Over the next hour, we distributed several dozen rosaries, crucifixes and religious medals, and had the opportunity to give encouragement to a young mother whose husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years ago. They are faithful Catholics in an adjoining parish, and we ask everyone to intercede for Scott McDowell, who is scheduled next week for a CAT scan to see how his case is progressing.
(NH) Don, Nancy and Deacon Mark headed down to the Philadelphia Cathedral area, certain that with St. Patrick’s weekend, there would be tourists. There was a large group of kids on tour who were very excited to receive rosaries and blessed medals. Many of the adult tourists and suburbanites hurried along, wanting to get out of the chill. Early on, a pickup truck stopped at the traffic light in front of us. A young worker jumped out, running up, asking for prayer for his family, and a rosary. We were happy to oblige. His truck mates started leaving without him and he had to quickly leave to catch up and jump back in.
One lady that stopped, Lucille, was very pleased to meet us. She told us that she had just left serving breakfast at a homeless shelter and was heading to the library to do some research on some ideas for helping them. Lucille told us how happy she was to see us out there on the sidewalk, offering to pray with people and speak with them about God. We told of how we are so privileged to be allowed to be the hands and feet and heart of Jesus and Lucille agreed.
A young man named Charles told us that he would like to pray. When asked if he had anything special to pray to God about, any intentions, he said that he wanted to thank God for being able to get up that day. It was amazing to hear this young man, apparently quite poor, want to praise God for what he had. We lifted up his prayers of thanks with him and asked God to especially bless Charles with great knowledge of His love for him and his job to share the love of Jesus with all who he meets. Charles was please to accept a blessed crucifix to wear.
An older man named Stan came by a little later. He had a green coat on to which we exclaimed that his coat was particularly celebratory for St. Patty’s day! Stan was pleased and told us that he was part Irish and Catholic to boot. He told us that he wanted to pray with us about his methadone treatment and how good it would be if he were done with it. Stan wanted to move upstate to live with and care for his 84 year old sister, Teresa. He said that the methadone treatment worked and helped him but he was struggling with other health issues and worries too. Stan was told that he had hardening of the arteries and that he might have to get his left leg amputated if it “goes downhill”. We touched his left leg below the knee, and prayed for Jesus the great healer to have mercy on Stan and heal his left leg. We greatly pray for God to move in this way of mercy for Stan. We also spoke of the importance of receiving the blessed sacrament and Stan assured us that he went to the Cathedral frequently and that he had not thought of how important it was to receive Christ in the Eucharist. He wanted to hear more about it. Nancy mentioned a quote from one of the talks she heard, “We consume Christ in order to be consumed with Him”. How beautiful is it that Our Lord wants us to receive Him in such an unfathomable and intimate way!
Finally, a woman named Hah came by. She was immediately recognized as we prayed with her almost two years ago (http://streetevangelization.com/lowerbucks/2017/06/10/saturday-june-10th-warm-day-warm-hearts-philly/). Hah, Vietnamese immigrant, had been homeless and seemed in dire straits when we last me her. She was beside herself with anger and hurt over her family ties that were broken. She appeared to be under the influence of something. Today Hah was tremendously better! She said that she now has an apartment. She spoke of an outreach worker named Chris who helped her get identification and food and shelter. Her eyes were clear and she looked lovely. Hah said that she still was not in touch with her family, that she could not even go to them to get her identification worked out, for fear of her father killing her. Hah continues to struggle with the pain of loss of family. She tells of how her brothers who have done wrong were forgiven but she will never be because she is a daughter. Nonetheless, Hah praised God for His working in her life and she wore a little pin of the Blessed Mother with infant Jesus on the lapel of her pretty wool coat. The difference in Hah’s appearance from two years ago to this day is nothing short of miraculous!
Please pray for the following people in your prayers:
- Hah – for healing of her family brokenness and bitterness to that of loving and merciful
- Stan – for his well being and good health and for healing of his left leg
- Bruce – for his health and well being
- Charles – to feel God’s presence strongly in his life guiding him
- Lucille – for blessings on her ministry efforts and her good health
- Young construction worker – for his family and continued faithfulness in Our Lord at work in his life
- Two young women from Tallahassee – for their safe travels and continued faith journey (one is preparing to become Catholic!, very pleased to receive and hear story of miraculous medal)
(NH) Nancy and Deacon Mark took to the streets of Ambler to knock and speak with St. Joseph’s parishioners. There was a chill but it was fortunately a sunny February day. The team went to Mass at St. Alphonsus to be readied for ministry, as St. Joe’s has no Saturday morning Mass. Using Google Maps uploaded with parishioner addresses, the team set about knocking on parishioner doors to explain that Deacon Mark is from the parish and they were looking for input on how the parish and Church is serving them and whether they would like their homes blessed and for any prayer intentions.
A kind man answered at the first home and invited us in to chat. The woman of the house exclaimed how pleased her mom would be that we came to visit. She told of how her mom had a considerable reversion, following the death of her father on this exact date 10 years prior, and now is an Extraordinary Minister at her parish. This adult daughter explained that she is raising her children in the Catholic faith but that she is having difficulty getting to Mass and growing in faith herself. Nancy witnessed to her own reversion some years ago when realizing that she struggled with Church teaching and lack of understanding why many things were taught. The faith had been more a set of rules to follow, then a relationship where one prays and worships and loves out of love for God. The homeowner agreed that she wanted to learn more too and that a recent sudden death of her best friend has brought her to looking for God in her life more than ever. The deceased best friend’s name happened to have been Nancy as well. She accepted Rediscover Catholicism and Rediscover Jesus books. Deacon Mark wanted to bless the home. He had forgotten to bring holy water but this woman happened to get holy water the day before and a paper with a house blessing on it, and he used this to bless the home and family. Truly, the number of “coincidences” with this home visit was staggering. It is a beautiful privilege to see God’s hand at work in clear amazing ways.
At another home a young man answered the door in pajama pants. He was not comfortable inviting us in but wanted to speak with us. He told us that was going to get changed and for us to wait. Mike came out and was pleased to speak with us. He told us of having been raised in the parish but then left to go to a Baptist church for a bit and now considered himself an atheist. Asking him “what does he believe in?” he told us that he was a type of atheist that thought that any religion could be right and that he did not know which was right nor what it mattered. He said that he did not have any particular complaints about the Church or St. Joe’s. We asked Mike if he considered the possibility that there was a creator. He said yes and that there could even be more than one. We agreed that yes there have been religions that have believed this throughout the centuries and Greek and Roman mythologies particularly lean towards the idea of many gods creating. Going back to the possibility of one God, the team asked again if Mike thought it was possible that there was one God who created all. He acknowledged that he thought it was a possibility. Nancy told of her recent talk with some fellows at a nursing home and their discussion about the number of stars in the universe exceeding the number of grains of sand that would fill a 5-mile wide x 5-mile high x 5-mile long box! Mike liked the idea of chatting with old guys at a nursing home about the universe 🙂 Going back to the single creator idea, we asked Mike if he could believe that a creator made this universe, this immense number of stars, and all else… and then the craziest thing, this super powerful creator, thinking of us individually in advance, and then creating us because when He thought of us He loved us. Mike said yes he thought it was a possibility. Then a most fantastic thing occurred next, we asked why would this God send Jesus? Mike told us that God would do that to show humans His love for us, that it would be a natural way for an amazingly powerful creator to draw his human creatures closer to Himself. Wow! We asked Mike if we could join hands and pray with and for him and he said yes. We prayed that our visit was going to help him come to know and love God and the Christian religion he was baptized into. Mike accepted a Crucifix telling us he did not have any of those for his room and would like one. Praise be to God who works in the most mysterious ways!
The team visited another home with a family and the dad answered the door and invited us into his home. He said that he and his family regularly attended Mass as St. Joe’s and that he has told his kids that it is important to keep their faith. The homeowner mentioned that he is very pleased to have Deacon Mark at the parish as he finds his homilies very good and relatable to family life since the Deacon has a family himself. He spoke of the difficulties of raising kids in today’s world and Nancy and Deacon Mark agreed. He thanked the Deacon for his service to the parish and for our prayers for him and his family.
Finally the team visited a Hispanic family where Deacon Mark’s Spanish speaking skills came in so handy once again! The homeowner told of how appreciative she is of the parish, that the recently formed Spanish prayer group was a great blessing to her. She also told of how parish staff helped her navigate her way to become a legal citizen of the US last year and how grateful she is for having St. Joseph’s parish in her life and the life of her family. The Deacon prayed with her and blessed the home and the family’s little shrine to Our Lady of Guadeloupe.
It was a fantastic blessing to have had the opportunity to speak about the Church and the parish of St. Joe’s with these parishioners. Please consider praying for the following people and their intentions:
- Vincent and his Uncle Joe – health, faith and well-being
- Tina and Joe – for their continued evangelization ministry
- Ron and family – strength as parent, growth in faith and love
- Charlie – anxiety difficulties
- Michael – to grow in faith and share it with his family
- Shauna and Chris’ family – faith, health, and safety
- the parish of St. Joseph’s in Ambler
(NH) Nancy and Deacon Mark went downtown to Suburban Station in Philadelphia for St. Paul Street Evangelization ministry on Saturday morning. The station was bright and dry, decorated with Christmas trees and shop signs, with Christmas music playing in many areas. Then there were the homeless, whose presence is a stark contrast to the tidy, clean, efficient looking station… Many were coming in from being outside in the rain, dampness clinging to their clothes and their scent. As found before at this location, as soon as our team enters the station we are approached by homeless people. Many tell stories of woe that are shocking and scary. They tell of lives of abuse and neglect, foster homes, addiction and prison, violence, theft, hunger, fear and bitterness. Many also tell of belief in God at work in their lives, of gracious love for Jesus and His Mother, of tremendous concern for the others who are homeless, of hope in getting places of their own, of getting jobs, of being healthy, of getting married, of making contact with their families. They are typically kind and sweet and so thankful for us to pray with them and speak with them about life and God and what He asks of us and what He does for us.
Wanting to do something special for Christmas for some of those that we would meet, the team brought several $10 Dunkin’ Donut giftcards, as there are a few of these shops in the concourse. This seemed a good idea so that we were not carrying cash and could steer use of our gift towards food instead of being used for drugs or liquor. In addition to our usual sacramentals, we also brought some knit gloves, purchased at the dollar store, to offer folks as a little Christmas gift, along with cookies and waters. The people were very appreciative for anything and everything that they received from us, corporeally and spiritually. After giving out all of the gift cards to the needy, there were some who came by later who had drinks from Dunkin’ Donuts but we had not given them gift cards. Apparently those whom we gave gift cards to shared what they had with others and bought them food and drink with their cards. The care of many of the homeless for their brethren truly cuts one to the heart. Our team is so appreciative of being given the privilege to serve the poor in the name of Jesus.
There were many encounters that were moving and this post could go on and on and on. However, for the sake of getting some things done today in addition to this post 🙂 and for the sake of the reader, here are some excerpts and intentions:
Keith – A young man who told of his prior life of alcoholism and being on the wagon for over 6 years, but in need of work and getting back in touch with his family after having been in prison. We bought him a train ticket to Lansdale, per his request.
Odell – A man who was sitting up against the wall in the station, but looked healthy and well dressed. He said he was very blessed. Odell had a speech impediment that made it very difficult to understand him. This has been noted before when ministering to the needy in Philadelphia; many have speech difficulties and it makes one wonder if that is part of the source of why they are not employed or being left behind in the culture. It certainly makes for a difficult life. Odell wanted to pray for Nancy and her children before wanting her to pray for him.
Salim – A young man who was heavily tattooed prays for forgiveness.
Elderly woman – She was mute and tried to sign her needs but was not understandable. She left seemingly pleased with a prayer, a new pair of gloves and a dunkin donuts card.
Charlene – A middle aged woman who we met on previous occasions. She said “Hi I’m back and I need prayer!” We prayed for her needs for shelter and stability and peace and for her daughter too.
Keith – A middle aged man who had spent some time in prison and wants to make good choices in alignment with God’s will in his life. He told us that he gives himself to Jesus and loves the Blessed Mother. His deceased mother’s name is Mary also, and Keith prays for a sign that his mom is well and with Christ.
Dante – 26 year old man who we met before. We prayed for him to have doors open in his life for stability and peace and for him to have strength to make choices to bring this about.
Leonora – For her health, shelter, and care.
Henry and Marcus – For their health, shelter, and care.
John Williams – For the repose of his loved one’s souls.
Jerold – A gentle giant of a man ~ for his needs.
Larry – Released from prison two days ago, having served a 20 something year sentence. Larry is on-fire with the Holy Spirit! He tell of how he has a job setup, is living in a halfway house and wants to build a good future for himself by following what God asks of him. Larry speaks of how he gets “thumped” on what he should do, sometimes it is light and gentle, sometimes it is strong and he knows what to do based on this. He plans to “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day” tomorrow by going to services at a Pentecostal church where he is comfortable, having been raised in that denomination. He accepted a medal of the Blessed Mother and enjoyed speaking with us about her love of us as her children.
Jackie – A soft spoken gentle women who originally came from Louisiana and speaks with a lilting southern accent and excellent vocabulary. She told of how she has no family in the area but came to Philadelphia for the promise of a job, after losing a job of 3 years in New York. The Philadelphia job never came to fruition and Jackie speaks of being stuck in Philadelphia. She has had some college education, which was not surprising considering how well spoken she was. Jackie’s story makes one think about how any of us could be a homeless person, due to job loss, lack of family or friends, mental illness, poor choices, health problems, and bad luck. She asked for a ride to the Art Museum but then having gotten there and seeing the rain, asked to be brought back to the train station. We recommended she go to the Hub of Hope in the station to ask them to help her get work, that she had employable skills. She said she would. On driving home, we saw that she did not enter the station after all but was walking down the street in the rain.
(NH) We (Deacon Mark and Nancy) braved the Philadelphia November chill for street evangelization on Saturday. Our little team started in front of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) but decided to switch gears when it became apparent that nobody wanted to be out on the sidewalk in the cold. So we packed up the car and drove back into center city, with a plan to go into Suburban Station.
Down in Suburban Station, with the cold outside, we had the privilege to meet, speak, and pray with many homeless people as well as share our protein bars and bags of nuts. It is always a humbling experience to have strangers willing to stop and connect with us. It is even more so with the poor. They demand nothing. The smallest gestures of kindness are met with a deep gratefulness not often experienced in life.
Early on we met Donna. She was hard to understand because she was missing many teeth and it made speech difficult. Despite our lack of ability to communicate well with each other, she allowed us to pray with her and she accepted a blessed crucifix. Donna gave Nancy and Deacon Mark big hugs. Her hug, which could be considered a small thing, built us up for the rest of our ministry that morning. God bless that sweet Donna!
A young woman named Tara came up to us and told us that she would like us to pray with her. We prayed for Tara to find permanent shelter and for her baby girl, who was with relatives, and gave her some blessed medals for her and her little one.
A short time after Tara left us, she returned with her friend Bree. Nancy said, “Hi Tara, do you want to chat some more with us?” and Tara exclaimed, “Oh, you remember my name!”. Another small gesture, the recollection of a name, does not seem like much. However, to someone who is struggling, it can mean very much. Tara explained that her friend Bree would love to pray with us too and that if possible she would also like a blessed medal. We were happy to oblige. We spoke at length with the young women about how the choices we make every moment of every day are either a choice God would want us to make or would not want us to make. We spoke of our need to do our best to make our choices in alignment with what God wants. This will bring the peace and hope and joy in Christ that He promises us. We spoke of how if everyone on earth did this and rejected turning away from God that it would be like we were living in heaven already. The young women enthusiastically agreed. Tara and Bree were pleased to accept Matthew Kelly’s Resisting Happiness books, which promise help in seeing one’s choices clearly in life.
Finally, we spent much time in conversation and prayer with a man named Albert. It was funny because he came up to us and asked where we were from. We told him Lower Bucks County. Albert went on to tell us that he went to school at William Tennent. Wouldn’t you know, that is Deacon Mark’s high school Alma mater and Nancy has a daughter there now too? To top it off Albert went to the same junior high as the Deacon as well. We asked what neighborhood he was from and Albert told us about how he had been placed at Bethanna in our town, then a residential facility for children from abuse/neglect situations. Nancy had volunteered at this same facility in the early 1990’s as a young college graduate, working with a little boy who must’ve been just a few years younger than Albert; this made Nancy and Albert miss each other at Bethanna by about 4 years. What a small world!
Albert spoke of his great faith in Christ but the need for all of us to get along with each other, regardless of religion. We wholeheartedly agreed that this is certainly what Christ wants of us, to love ALL His people. Albert, however, did not speak lightly of sinfulness nor of the need to turn away from it. He mentioned, without prompting, that Jesus calls us all to repent of our sins to receive Him and live in Him. Albert spoke at great length of his childhood history in Lower Bucks playing football and running track. He seemed so happy recollecting this with us. He briefly mentioned that after high school he dropped out of vocational tech school due to illness in his family and never went back. Now he is planning to try to complete some classes for a certificate that will help him get a good job. He mentioned that speaking of his sports made him remember how good the physical outlet was for him and that he should try and do more of that to help when his mind is full and needs to let some thoughts out. Upon asking about his housing situation he mentioned living in North Philadelphia and said it was OK. We told him about some affordable housing near mass transit in Lower Bucks and that perhaps he might consider trying to move back up as he has such fond memories of his time near our home. Upon leaving, we realized that our conversation with Albert brought back good memories for both us and him. It was a lovely blessing from Our Lord 🙂
Please pray for Albert to get his classes, job and life on track and also for the following:
- Jenise and Robert, for their well being
- Jenise’s husband David, for healing from his cancer
- Donna, for her well being
- Tara and Bree, for them to continue their friendship and to be guided and given strength to make choices in alignment with God’s will and good for their lives; Also for Tara’s baby girl
- Trevor, for his family
- Angel, for direction in his life
- Laura, a victim of domestic violence, for a new home
- Dante, for healing from his addiction and continued openness to hearing the Lord’s call
- Shaina, to be blessed with being able to return to her home and family
And for the many people who accepted rosaries and blessed medals to receive great grace from God when looking upon them and praying with them.
Marcel – for his senior housing to come through
Leonard – for his needs and shelter
Two Indian men – for peace in the world and for their families
Salim – gives glory and praise to God
Kim – for complete healing and recovery from alcoholism; we prayed healing prayer for her to be relieved of any desire to drink.
Tony – for his needs and life
Rachel and Alexis – for blessings on their life
James – to find permanent housing
James – for his foster mom’s healing and wellness
Rich – for peace in Philadelphia and the world
Lissee – for her family members to come to know the beauty and truth of faith in Jesus and His Church and for Lissee to be guided by the Holy Spirit know what and when to speak and act in her love of Christ and when to be quiet and still
Adrian – 42 year old man who has been on the streets for three weeks following the loss of his job due to relapse in drug use. His step mother evicted him from her house, and he has been going to Saint Francis Inn for food and shelter on cold nights, and he desperately wants to put his life back together again.