June 25, 2015

Bread of life

Before the staff and volunteers of St. Francis Inn serve food to the hungry, they themselves are fed with the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ.  Mass is celebrated each day here at 8:30am in a beautiful chapel above St. Francis Inn.  The chapel was constructed in 2000 and prior to that, Mass was celebrated in the friary living room.  Thus, when the made the chapel they intentionally made it almost feel like a living room.  There are chairs and couches, the altar is designed like a coffee table, and the area rug is similar to the one that was in the friary.  

There are three priests here in the community - Frs. Bill DeBiase, Michael Duffy, and Patrick Sieber.  Of these, only Fr. Michael works at St. Francis Inn, Frs. Bill and Patrick are hospital chaplains but live with the friars (there are four brothers in the community too).  The three priests take turns celebrating Mass and today it was Fr. Patrick's turn.  He spoke of the mural of St. Francis that is on one the walls outside the inn and how St. Francis always wanted to preach, not always with words though.  It was through the way he lived his life, Fr. Patrick said, that Francis preached.  We should live the same way, our lives should be our sermon he said.  

The Masses at St. Francis Inn are unique in that everyone remains seated throughout the Mass except during the sign of peace when everyone gets up to greet one another.  One person on the staff takes a turn each day coordinating the music and proclaiming the reading.  Oftentimes you will find the guests of the inn at Mass, some who are there just to be indoors but others who truly wish to worship the Lord.  There was one woman there today who didn't seem homeless but is certainly a frequent guest of the inn.  When Barbara Salapek, a staff member here, came in for Mass she put her hand on the woman's shoulder and said hello.  The smile on the woman's face could have lit up Philadelphia.  You could tell how much it meant to her to be acknowledged.  It reminded me of a quote from Mother Teresa that hangs here in our home:

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread."

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