While a daily self-offering to the Lord for the coming of God’s kingdom and praying Pope Benedict XVI’s Monthly General Intention are part of each morning’s community prayer, one of the ways the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity live the ‘apostleship of prayer’ is by our involvement in the new Hope House of Manitowoc County.
First, a clarification of a few terms before sharing more about Hope House of Manitowoc County:
- Apostleship of Prayer: In 1844 a group of seminarians desiring to be ‘out in the mission field’ rather than studying were urged by a spiritual director to do spiritual works of offering prayers, sacrifices and frustrations as an apostle of prayer. The idea caught on and by the 1800’s Pope Leo XIII formally recognized the movement by providing a monthly personal prayer intention. Later, the Congregation for the Propogation of the Faith (one group of official evangelization cheerleaders) asked Pope Pius XI to add a missionary intention. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity incorporated the practice long ago of remembering the general intention in prayer together.
- Pope’s Monthly Prayer Intentions: Pope Benedict XVI urges Christians throughout the world to unite in prayer for these August intentions.
General Intention: That those who are unemployed, homeless, or in any serious need may find welcome, understanding, and help in overcoming their difficulties.
Missionary Intention: That the Church may be a home for all people in need, opening its doors to any who suffer from racial or religious discrimination, hunger, or wars forcing their emigration.
Now, Hope House of Manitowoc County is not a totally new experience for us Franciscan Sisters. A few weeks a year we opened our own home to homeless families not served by existing social service agencies such as: Lakeshore CAP, St. Vincent DePaul and the Salvation Army. We joined hands with other congregations of faith and founded the Lakeshore’s Interfaith Hospitality Network in 2005 offering food, shelter and hours of personal presence to help guests feel at home among us.
What is new is that in the last months a stationary site called Hope House of Manitowoc County has become a dream come true. Already feeling many inconveniences and disruptions, low income families are now able to have one stable place to stay during the day and in the evening. As volunteers, we continue to offer meals and support services. Daily presence among the guests from 5 p.m. – 8 a.m. is also something we do. (Read Herald Times Reporter article.)
While many of us Franciscan Sisters are preparing for our hosting week August 22-28, 2010 by checking schedules and blocking off shifts to be at Hope House as well as praying for those who are homeless, Sister Camilla Wolfgram, OSF , Chair of the Board, and Sister Anne Turba, OSF, our Franciscan community coordinator, attend many more meetings to insure that programs designed to redress the underlying causes of homelessness are also carried out. As Franciscans we feel we are living the Pope’s intention, but more importantly we are living the Gospel message: ‘What so ever you do to the least… that you do unto Me.”