This article is reprinted with permission from St. Francis Inn, Philadelphia, from their publication “The Pilgrim”

One of the great things about the ministry here at St. Francis Inn is the wonderful people who come through here volunteering their services to help the poor (and poor us—the staff!). One such example is John & Madeline Budway. Originally from Queens, NY, they now live in Raleigh, NC and Florida. They first came to the Inn with a group from our Franciscan parish, St. Francis in Raleigh. Somehow they were taken by this ministry and the spirit here and they felt called to spend more time at the Inn. Recently, they were here for a month.

Both felt comfortable in this neighborhood. Having been raised in NY, they were used to the row houses, the elevated train, the city noises, etc. Because of John’s work, they lived in Brazil for a while. There they were struck by the extreme contrast between the haves and the have-nots: luxury hotel and mansions next to hovels and extreme poverty. Realizing how blessed they were, they felt compelled to do something, to help, and to share their own blessings.

John said, “I like to work out in the yard mingling with the waiting guests. I wear my Navy cap to start conversations with veterans (an unusually large percentage of America’s homeless are vets). I also talk sports with the men and get to know them on a first name basis. We are especially impressed with the young Franciscan Volunteers. To know they have come here before they start theirs careers and see how they direct and manage guests and volunteers, many who are older than their parents is truly inspiring.” Madeline’s favorite part of the day is morning Mass. “It is a fantastic way to start the day. Its peace and calm extend throughout the day. I love it.” She found the staff welcoming, warm, protective of them and kind and patient with the guests. “It is truly amazing how dedicated the staff is,” she adds. “We hope we won’t quickly forget the lessons we’ve learned and we’ve already talked about coming back next year!”