Wednesday, November 19, 2014

College 2 Seminarians at Work at Shelter

story by Garrett McGowan
photos by Gerard Juan

On Oct. 9, the seminarians from college two took time from their day to assist the workers of St. Joseph Shelter in downtown Mount Angel.  The associate director of pastoral formation, Mrs. Nancy Holt, was the coordinator of the project.

This was part of the seminarians' formation to service.  During their time there, the seminarians worked in the garden the shelter operates.  This garden allows the people staying at the shelter to grow their own food.  The seminarians picked tomatoes and cabbages, along with pulling dead plants from the garden.  After a few hours the garden was almost cleared of all the dead plants and had many buckets full of ripe tomatoes.

Andres Guerra of the Diocese of Orange at work in the shelter garden.

Brother Jorge Haro Moreno of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit hauls away a pile of weeds and grass.

When the work in the garden was complete, the shelter's co-director, Sister Marcella Parrish, SSMO, gave the seminarians and Mrs. Holt a tour of the facilities.  During this time the seminarians had time to learn about the shelter's beginnings and how it operates.  The seminarians also had a chance to meet some of the migrant workers that are staying at the shelter.  Most of the workers are men with experience in agriculture.  On average the shelter gives aid to hundreds of migrant workers a year.

The shelter also serves families.  St. Joseph is a transitional shelter, meaning that the shelter helps families with housing and work until they are able to find a home of their own and secure a job.  St. Joseph Shelter offers classes for children while their parents work, helps with case management, meals, clothing and family assistance.

The Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel run St. Joseph Shelter.  The sisters founded the shelter in 1988 to aid migrant workers and the homeless.  The shelter receives government funding, but it is limited.

After the tour, the seminarians had a spiritual reflection on how they had served God and the people.  Part of the formation process was to reflect on the work the seminarians did with the four dimensions of formation and the call to the priesthood.

The service that the seminarians did can be seen as the call that Pope Francis has given to all Catholics to serve the poor and oppressed.  During the time of reflection the seminarians focused on how the smallest services can make a difference in the lives of others, even if it does not seem like much.  Through this they were able to see the message of Pope Francis and offer the work up to God.

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