CNS visits a church in Baltimore, St. Vincent de Paul, doing some extraordinary outreach and support among the homeless.
And one of those in charge: a deacon.
Father Dick Lawrence doesn’t see homeless people through rose-colored glasses, but he doesn’t close his eyes to them either.
“They didn’t get there overnight and you’re not going to get them out (of homelessness) overnight,” said the pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in downtown Baltimore. “Sometimes the best you can do is to treat them like human beings and provide effective support services to keep them from declining further and faster.”
Father Lawrence and the congregation of his urban parish, in partnership with the congregation of suburban Our Lady of the Fields Church in Millersville, Maryland, have been doing that for more than 20 years.
Every Friday night, St. Vincent de Paul hosts a dinner for anyone who wants a hot meal. Deacon Ed Stoops and his cadre of volunteers from Our Lady of the Fields bring the food and join St. Vincent parishioners in setup and cleanup each week.
“Tonight we are expecting to serve about 150 poor and homeless,” Deacon Stoops told Catholic News Service on a recent Friday. “Last week at the end of the month we had 316 people, but now it’s the beginning of the month and the checks are in, so we’ll have fewer people.”
The deacon, along with his wife and daughter, started the weekly meals for poor and homeless people 22 years ago. “It’s been our great privilege to meet Jesus in his poor and homeless people,” he said.
Check out the video below.