An email. A donation. A favor. A smile. A prayer.
As I have helped keep the fires burning with the Saint Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry to the Homeless these past four months, I have found an appreciation for the little things.
We have operated for four straight months without the presence of students, who are the life of and the reason for this simple ministry. Our goal has been to preserve and deepen the relationships we have with our friends on the streets so that when students can return, the transformational experience that they have remains intact. Our Labre friends miss seeing the guys on Sunday nights; no doubt, we do, too.
Nevertheless, our small team of dedicated adults has carried on, bolstered by amazing, thoughtful gestures of kindness from students, families, alumni and strangers.
Hey Mr. Walters, I was thinking about Labre this morning. Do you guys need any volunteers?
Connor, our family owns a restaurant—can we supply your meals for this Sunday?
I have a ton of homemade masks that people at our parish made. Would you pass them out to the Labre friends?
I understand that you can’t have outside volunteers right now. I will definitely be keeping the homeless in my prayers.
I cannot tell you how strange and quiet things often feel when we are preparing to go out on Sundays, or how many times the folks we visit have asked, “How are the guys doing?” Surfer Bobby, a friend on the Flats route, recently declared that he doesn’t care about professional sports when they come back—just Saint Ignatius football.
Labre is predicated on a simple premise: If two people can exchange smiles, names and a handshake, and perhaps a little food, those individuals can recognize the presence of God in one another. Of course, the handshake piece is off the table at the moment, but the formula still holds up.
The many acts of support we have received since early March have reminded me that the way to save our world—to change our world—requires participation from every one of us. We would do well to remember that, as Labre has shown for over 17 years, it is often not the grand gestures that make the difference. It is the little things.
On behalf of our entire team, thank you.
- Connor Walters '09