June 26, 2014

Days in Kensington

I arrived in Philadelphia yesterday morning at 7:30am.  I caught an early flight out of Boston and Mr. Sheehan '79 of our math department picked me up at the airport.  We drove back to St. Francis Inn where I joined up with Mrs. Trachim, also of our math department, and the 7 Trinity seniors who have been here since Saturday.  Mr. Sheehan flew back to Manchester later in the afternoon as he had to return for a prior commitment.

With Fr. Michael Duffy, OFM after Mass on Wednesday
We arrived back at the house just in time for Mass at 8:30am.  The community here begins each day with Mass in their beautiful chapel on the second floor of the inn.  The Masses at St. Francis Inn are simple and everyone remains seated for the entire Mass, including the celebrant.  Prior to the construction of the chapel, Masses used to be held in the living room of the inn's director, Fr. Michael Duffy, OFM.  However, when they were renovating the inn some years ago they decided to add the chapel on the second floor.  The chapel has comfortable chairs, "couches", and an area rug to mimic the effect of Fr. Michael's living room.  It's a wonderful space and I will add some pictures later.

Fr. Michael was the celebrant of Mass on Wednesday and in his homily he spoke of how money, fame, etc. will never bring us happiness, they are false promises like the thornbushes and thistles Jesus spoke of in the gospel that day.  At the sign of peace, everyone gets up and exchanges the sign of peace with everyone in the chapel.  Hugs abound and the whole process takes a minute or so, it's really nice.

After Mass work begins.  Some people head over to the St. Benedict's Thrift Shop to sort clothes, others go out on pick-ups to help get food donations, some stay behind to help prep for the meal, and others help passing out coffee and donuts to the guests.  We get a break at noon and then head back to the inn to prepare desserts, bag bread, and continue to help prepare for dinner.  The meal is served from 4:30pm-6:00pm followed by clean-up and then evening prayer back in the chapel.  The days are a little different on Friday-Sunday as the only meal of the day is served from 11:30am-1:00pm and folks have the rest of the day off.

After evening prayer last evening, we came back to our house and I grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner.  Fr. Michael came over at 8pm to talk about some of the people who come (or came) to the inn and to discuss how they are not bums or people don't want to work, many of them never had a chance at life - like the girl who was kicked out of her house by her mother when she was 12, or the guy who got addicted to pain medication after spending 2 1/2 years in a hospital recovering from a landline injury in the Vietnam War, or the man whose parents died in a house fire and he completely lost control of his life.  Fr. Michael asked the students if they would have the faith, support, and friends to cope with problems and to not go over the edge and stay away from destroying their lives.

Powerful stuff to ponder.

More to come...

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