Over the past few weeks, I’ve had an opportunity to volunteer for Catholic Charities. Each week I visit a home for men who are chronic addicts. These men have lost everything. They have no home, no job, no money and most of their families have given up on them. As sad as this sounds, these men still display some level of hope. They hope for a job. They hope that they can support themselves again one day. They hope that someone will listen to them and learn their name. They hope that they can defeat their addiction.
Many of these men have a story of success. Some have been millionaires yet have lost it all. Others never really seemed to have had a “chance”. In visiting with them, I have learned that each person has a story to tell. They have a love for other people inside of them, but they are scared of being judged by others. Some of these men are the ones you may see holding up a sign asking for help. However, most of the men in the shelter are too scared to ask for help – especially on the street corner with a sign. Only the most courageous man stands at a corner.
These men are interested in learning about God – at some point. But they are a bit suspicious. I have noticed that they are seeming to warm up to me a bit as they see me show up each week. My mission is simple, to just be present and to listen if they want to talk. It has been one of the hardest yet one of the most rewarding things I have done in a long time. A few of the men reach out for a handshake and they grip my hand so hard and then don’t want to let go. The desire for human touch is so obvious, they long for a connection. Many have shed a tear when they tell their story. They are so hungry for love.
Driving home from these visits each week, I reflect on fortune. Not fortune made of gold, coin or currency. Rather a fortune of love for God, family, and friends. These are commodities that are filled with hope. A hope that can so easily disappear if a few circumstances were to change. These fortunes offer a warmth to keep the winter chill away – no matter the temperature.
Our school community is blessed with over 100 families that can offer hope to each other for today and for every tomorrow. Please take some time to get to know some new friends during this winter season. It is easy to fall into the seasonal doldrums at this time of year. However, we are all called to be saints and that means being active in forming relationships that are holy and encouraging with and towards one another.
Let’s continue to walk that road together, one step at a time, and remember to pray for one another, let’s be ‘Hope Dealers’!
Speaking of hope and prayers, here is a list of some new friends that I’ve met at the shelter where I volunteer. Would you add them to your prayers – asking for God to assure them that they are loved?
|Francis||Greg||Peter||Paul||*Robert – deceased|
Thank you and May God Bless you abundantly this year!
Bruce Richards, EdS