Monday, November 23, 2015

Seminarians Make a Difference at Local Shelter

by Brother William Petry, M.Sp.S.

On Saturday, Oct. 10th, half of the second-year college seminarians volunteered at St. Joseph Shelter in Mount Angel as part of their pastoral formation. St. Joseph Shelter is a ministry that serves a variety of people in the local area. It was founded by the Benedictine Sisters at Queen of Angels Monastery in 1988. The shelter used to serve as a college in the 60s and 70s but was repurposed for the shelter in the late 80s.

The seminarians were greeted by Mike Norman, one of the directors of the shelter who serves along with Jennifer Johren. Mike greeted them with a smile as he finished a meeting with someone in his office. He began briefing the group about the history and mission of the shelter at the reception area of the building. During this time he was interrupted by three or four workers who asked him for directions, keys, or his signature. It was evident that Mike is very busy in his work to keep this shelter running.

The facility at St. Joseph Shelter can house up to 11 families, and Mission Benedict, their food pantry, feeds up to 200 local families. They also have a house for immigrant workers called Casa de Refugio St. Jose, which houses up to 80 men. As Mike showed the seminarians the food pantry he explained that the shelter is currently under construction; nevertheless, they chose to keep it open. “Let’s help more people and modify our office space,” explained Mark regarding the rationale behind the changes that are being made. After its construction, the shelter should be able to house up to 17 families.

The College Two students before they headed for St. Joseph Shelter.

After the short tour, Mike showed the group their task: a main office at the entrance of the shelter. It had accumulated many things and needed to be cleaned. The seminarians didn’t need any more directions. They started working, some directing, while others chose his corner with which to work. A wooden cabinet was removed and placed in a storage building, and all of the items in the office were organized and then cleaned. Within a few hours, the office was good as new. The group worked well together and efficiently completed their task. At the conclusion of their experience Marc Jenkins shared, “It was a great time to see the brotherhood between us as we worked.” 

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