Pastor’s Keyboard: This last Tuesday, I was walking out of Immaculate Heart of Mary church with Fr. Marco at the end of youth group when a young father and his two sons aged 11 and 9 walked into the church looking very tired and sad. The dad walked up to Father and I and asked to speak with the Pastor. He said him, and his sons had been evicted from their home and were now homeless. As if this weren’t bad enough, he told us the eviction happened while he was out with his sons trying to get food. When he came home the owner told him that he evicted them, and his wife and 9-year-old daughter were waiting for him and the boys at the Sheetz nearby. When he got to the Sheetz they weren’t there. It was a very cold day. He and the boys then spent hours walking up and down the roads looking for them becoming more desperate as they walked. He worried about their safety.
Exhausted with two boys who had not eaten since lunch, he asked around for a warm place to stay. Everyone said go to Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, sometimes they let you sleep in the pews. So, he came in with two very tired boys and asked if they could sleep in the pews for the night. There was no way we could let them do that. I drove the young father and his sons around for a good while looking for his wife and daughter. After some time, all we could do is hope that someone might have paid for a room for them. Sadly, neither parent owns a phone. We got the kids some food from McDonald’s (the dad said he was too sad and shocked to eat anything). Then we were able to get them a room at the local A&E motel (the cheapest in the area) for a few nights. In doing this, I had to change all my evening plans, but God used this to bless them. When I texted people explaining why I could not meet them, they immediately offered to help in anyway the family needed. People offered rides, food, and one couple even bought them both track phones with cards that would allow them to make calls for a month. The generosity and concern of the young adults I contacted was amazing!
Where do we go from here? Fortunately, the young father and his wife were able to find each other the next day. Sadly, there is only one homeless shelter and it does not take in families. Hopefully social services can help them find temporary housing soon. The young father is not in good health and has been unable to find work. They are now working to get the kids back in school and are trying to make it day by day. When I last spoke to him, he expressed thanks to God and to me, but it was I who felt blessed. I saw how God changed my carefully laid plans for the evening to do that which was unexpected but needed. I saw others step into the breach and offer to help this family whom they had never met, and I saw the reality of what so many in our area and around the country and world face every day.
When I was young, my dad was injured, and we got behind on the bills like this young father. Fortunately for us at that time we had a lot of family to lean on and they were able to get us through that time until he was better and could work again. I kept thinking that if we had not had such a wonderful and generous family with resources, we too could be in the position of this family. What would I have hoped others would have done to help us? What would you have hoped others would have done to help you if you and your children or grandchildren were one day in this position? Whatever your answer to this question tells you and me how we should all respond to the needs of the homeless and helpless in our country. We need to pray and work for those in need. Jesus says, “Whatever you do to the least of these you do for me”. What will you do?
Your Brother and Father and in Christ,