Indigence Cleansing in the “D”

 

Washington Boulevard was much busier this past month. The poor most especially the mentally ill were much more visible.  In September the buildings in Capital Park that we share the alley with expanded their renovation. So our shared alley is part of a construction zone now from State Street to Grand River. With this added construction/renovation, comes added security from the private security firm that the city has hired.  It is assumed the primary job of the private firm of course is building security. The buildings and construction materials are exposed and in need of being watched.

And yet a secondary task has been assigned to the city’s private security force. They are to clean/sanitize the area of any and all undesirable people. Who are the undesirable people? Why the poor of course. The homeless and mentally ill for sure. But it is not always easy to distinguish who the homeless and mentally ill are despite the best profiling techniques; so if you look poor, you are questioned.  And, as witnessed by this writer, if you don’t answer the questions correctly, you are escorted out of the area by a guy in a black uniform with a big gun. If you are homeless and carrying a backpack? Well forget it. The city parks or streets are not for you.

The city is slowly expanding its zone of indigence cleansing. Within the parish boundaries, that zone of indigence cleansing now has reached our back door. In the not too distant future, it will reach our front door. The poor we serve will continue to be pushed further and further out away from the dynamic central city.   The homeless and mentally ill will not disappear though it may be tougher for them to reach us. These issues are much greater and much more complicated and are in need of being addressed by the people of the State of Michigan and the US.

Called to conversion, called to explore and think.

An article from the current issue of the “THE CORD A Franciscan Spiritual Review” Grabbed my attention this past week.

I quote from an article written by Michael Cusato, O.F.M. one of the foremost Scholars on medieval Franciscan History in the field today.

He starts out his article by writing a couple of questions directed towards the Friars.

Question 1. Why are you poor?

In his response he states –  “ ……I would hazard to guess that a least a few (if not more) would answer my initial question – why are you poor why do you choose poverty – by claiming that you are poor because the Jesus whom you desire to follow was poor, and that we Franciscans are poor, because we follow the poor Christ. This was and is a truism in Franciscan formation and spirituality. Indeed, it was the primary reason given in the Middle Ages by many Franciscans themselves. But today, few Scripture scholars would describe the Jesus of the gospels as being a man who lived a life of voluntary poverty. The poor Christ, in other words was a particularly medieval understanding of Jesus. In fact, it was an image that had become prevalent only in the High Middle Ages – shortly before the time of Francis in the latter part of the twelfth century – and that this particular image would once again shift in succeeding centuries.”……..

YIKES! This article starting with this paragraph really caught me off guard. I must admit that I was unprepared to hear this message and, at first, was instantly repelled by its implications for me.  This is something I really did not want to hear.

Why is that?

Peace

Mike

Compuware Corp.

 

June 17, 2014

For more years than I can remember, the Compuware family has supported the Ministries of St. Aloysius Neighborhood Services. When the Outreach Center was active and serving the poor, we could always count on them to lend a hand when emergencies came up by supplying coffee, bread, money and a more than generous amount of personal time.

The location has changed a bit. The model of service has changed a bit, but one thing that has stayed constant is the support of the good people at the Compuware Corporation.

Today, volunteers from Compuware Corporation can be found wearing Neighborhood Services aprons and backpacks, searching the streets of Detroit during their lunch breaks, looking for those most in need. They can also be found in our Kitchenette making hundreds of sandwiches to be given out to those whom are hungry.

For more than two years, the Compuware team has singlehandedly created mission and ministry.  At 7:30 am they are at the back door of the Church picking up needed supplies, sandwiches, cookies, socks and hygiene kits and more. Working together with Skillman Library staff they weekly set up tables and meet and greet dozens of people in need and address the needs of body, mind and spirit. After the noontime encounter, the Library invites all in attendance to sit for a spell and enjoy a movie.

We are grateful for the love and dedication of the good people that join us from Compuware Corporation. We are a volunteer driven organization. Without volunteers there is no ministry—no helping hand reaching out.

If you are looking for a way to give back and a ministry to participate in, please consider giving us a call.

Peace

Mike

 

30th Anniversary Celebration Convocation and Chapter – Order of Ecumenical Franciscans

OFS General Constitutions

Remaining faithful to their own identity, the fraternities will take care to make the most of each occasion for prayer, formation, and active collaboration with other ecclesial groups.  They should welcome with pleasure those who, without belonging to the SFO, wish to share its experiences and activities. (Art. 103.1)  The fraternities will promote wherever possible, fraternal relations with non-Roman Catholic associations inspired by Francis. (Art. 103.2)

The 30th Anniversary Celebration Convocation & Chapter Order of Ecumenical Franciscans convened on July 18, 2013, and we would be together at the Capuchin Retreat Center in Washington, Michigan until the 21st.  It was a time of excitement for me! After arriving, when all our brothers and sisters were present and before the start of any business, the community gathered in the chapel and entered into silent prayer and meditation.

On the following day, introductions were made, and I was honored to extend fraternal greetings (in the absence of Tom Bello OFS, National Minister, Anne Mulqueen, OFS, Interfaith/Ecumenical chairperson for NAFRA, and James Howard, OFS, Divine Mercy Region Regional Minister) to the brothers and sisters of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans (OEF).

The gathering was a delight to attend. It was a celebration of 30 years of shared history, business, the election and installation of two servant leadership positions, and prayer (of course a fair share of Franciscan foolishness).  Ed Shirley, OFS was remembered throughout our time together in fun and prayerful ways—he is surely missed!

The final day was highlighted by a wonderful presentation by Patrick Carolan of the Franciscan Action Network (F.A.N.). The evening Communion Service included a “Service of Profession and Renewal of Vows”, followed by celebration, conversation, laughter and Franciscan partying that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.

The following day, as all were getting ready to depart, I offered to our brother Craig Robert Miller, OEF Minister General, our support and our love. I requested that the OEF consider to allow the brothers and sisters of the OFS of Divine Mercy Region’s neighboring fraternities to serve them at next year’s gathering (e.g. possibly handling transportation).

Our similarities (OEF and OFS) are many. As you know, the OFS’ guiding document is the Rule; the OEF follow the Principles.  I offer to you the following excerpts from each others’ essential writings.  After you consider these writings, read Pope John Paul II writing “Ut Unum Sint” also given to you here.

             

               Principles of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans

Principle 1. We covenant together, as the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, to observe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.  Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the Gospel, going from Gospel to life and life to the Gospel.

                       

 Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order

Article 4.  The rule and life of the Secular Franciscan is this: to observe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.

Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.  Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the Gospel, going from Gospel to life and life to the Gospel.

 

Ut Unum Sint

Encyclical of Pope John Paul II

…Thus it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of “appendix” which is added to the Church’s traditional activity.  Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work.  And consequently must pervade all that she is and does; 20.1

 


 

…What unites us is much greater than what divides us. Pope John XXIII; 20.2

 

It is very difficult to describe this joyful encounter. We all were welcomed completely—brothers and sisters giving of themselves!  OEF brothers and sisters were pilgrims, traveling by bus, train and some by airplane—mostly absorbing the cost of their travel and spending up to 20 hours coming to the meeting and 20 hours going back home.

They inspire me through their love and dedication.

Peace

Mike

FLASH PICNICS ?

As I push on out of the Parish Office and onto Washington Blvd, the sun is brightly shining. The grass on the boulevard is freshly cut. The trees are wonderfully green and fragrant. There is not a soul to be seen.  I can’t help but smile as I think about the activity about to be unleashed in the neighborhood.  Surveying the street I notice a pickup and cars pulling up in front of the now boarded up community center. People emerge and start unloading and setting up tables.  A gas grill is fired up and the smell of roasting hotdogs and hamburgers begins to fill the air.

“Good mornings” are exchanged as more volunteers arrive. Laughter bounces off the walls of the tall buildings that surround us. A homeless man wanders over to see what is going on.  He reads the sign being hung off the main table and exclaims “I have heard of “Flash Mob’s” but a Flash Picnic? That’s a new one for me.” He burst out laughing as he headed down the table filling a plate, a hot dog, potato salad and all the fixins. Soon word spreads and the street and sidewalk come alive with people. A couple people come down from the chancery building. A construction crew walks over from the new scaffold work going up. Seniors with grandchildren come down out of nearby apartments. Two young men with guitars hanging off their backs grab seconds. “Who is doing this?” one of them asks.  I respond, “St. Aloysius Church.”  “Where on earth is St. Aloysius?”  Somebody next to me points to the building not 100 feet away. “I’ve lived here 10 years and I never new that church was there.”  “10 years”, I replied?  “Welcome to the neighborhood! Welcome to St. Al’s.”

Peace

Mike