A delegation of 8 teens and 2 adults from St. Francis traveled to Philadelphia to minister with the poor and homeless at St. Francis Inn on June 27 to July 1, 2011. The last youth delegation to visit the Inn was in 2006. The group of 10 who made the visit this year returned filled with stories and inspiration from the people we met and ministered with. Overall, the comments from the youth who participated were very positive and they supported recommending the trip to their peers.
The delegation and staff at the Inn works to meet the immediate daily needs of the people they serve with food, clothing and hospitality. On the four days of the trip, we prepared and served over 350 evening meals and over 150 morning meals each day to the guests. A typical day started with breakfast at the house we stayed at next to the Inn, followed by morning Mass offered by one of the resident friars and then on to food pickups, breakfast service and evening meal preparation. After a light lunch break we would return to the Inn for completing the evening meal preparation, take an afternoon break and then serve the meal from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. While the days were long, the teens always seemed to have enough energy to enjoy evening trips to Dave & Buster’s, Italian Ice, and the too good to pass up visit for a Philly Cheese Steak.
By interacting with the guests at the Inn and getting to know their personal stories we started to understand them better and the light of Christ emerged. It enhanced our knowledge that many folks right here in this nation go hungry and are homeless. It also showed us that by trusting in God and His providence and serving as instruments of His mercy and peace we can address this situation and actually have an impact on people who are in this situation. One of the youth commented that he was left with a sense of respect for the courage and perseverance for the people who were attending the nearby substance abuse meetings and had been able to quit using drugs and abusing alcohol. Another youth was given a journal that one of the guests had written about his life and the people he interacted with at the Inn. We all left with a feeling that we received as much as we gave by ministering with and getting to know the guests at the Inn.