To All Friends of Julia’s,
What is family? Where does it exist? What is its purpose and meaning? We have heard a lot of talk about the family and its God-given nature, thanks to the recent Catholic Synod called by Pope Francis.
Almost by accident, I discovered another expression of the family and how it fits into God’s love and plan for the human race.
Since the beginning of October I have been meeting on Tuesdays for lunch and conversation with the women of the Julia Greeley Home. Because we are sharing a beautiful residential facility with another community, Shannon’s Hope, our lunch table is a packed and lively place!
Around that lunch table I continue to learn new things about God’s love, even thoughI have been a priest for many years, and you’d think I would have seen it all, having served through the years in many capacities as teacher, prison chaplain and spiritual counselor.
Yet no amount of experience takes away the brand new experience of being around the healing power of a special kind of family. That’s what we have around that lunch table on Tuesdays.
In the safety of this beautiful home, our Julia’s women are moving forward with their plans and dreams, despite having crushing past disappointments that sent them into homelessnes before they came to us.
At our most recent lunch one of our residents has big news of receiving an award for her good work at her new place of employment (we’ll be posting her story shortly); and another was about to dash off to a meeting with her caseworker to plan her next step toward independence. (We are being protective of our residents’ names for their privacy).
When the caseworker appeared with a cheery greeting, she got a round of greetings, and everybody asked that she join us for lunch sometime .... “OK, done deal!“ she said. It was a beautiful moment of a special kind of family togetherness.
Meanwhile, the Shannon’s Hope ladies, who are pregnant and some with small children, can finally make their plans in a setting where their children are safe and they are loved. That they have found peace is evident in the good behavior of these tots and the contentment on the faces of their mothers.
So, what did I see around the lunch table? Family. Not a traditional family, to be sure, but still an expression of God’s love and His desire that we all live together in peace and realize the dignity and purpose that He has for each individual.
Pope Francis speaks a lot about the family, even in his off-the-cuff comments. Here’s something he’s said recently that I think fits for a family like Julia’s -- one that was drawn together out of past brokenness, but is now healing again:
“Families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity. An opportunity which we have to care for, protect and support. That is a way of saying that they are a blessing ... And a family is truly a family when it is able to open its arms and receive all of this love.”
We are putting this love into action at the Julia Greeley Home and Shannon’s Hope, and it is right there, for all to see, around our lunch table! More >