Encountering God among the homeless

Sr. Anne Margaret: 'Some of the most appreciative people I have met are of this population'

Editor's note: Many of our Sisters and Associates befriend our homeless brothers and sisters through volunteer efforts or donations. Sister Anne Margaret Carmody works at St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter in Green Bay as a Support II person, providing intake services, listening to guests, assessing needs, directing guests to area services, etc. She also works with clients at House of Hope and Wellspring.  We asked Sister Anne Margaret to share a little of her experiences at St. John's.

by Sister Anne Margaret Carmody
published Fall 2013

St. John Homeless Shelter is a mosaic of many people and agencies responding to guests' needs for a place to shower, eat and sleep. Volunteers and staff respond from their hearts, minds and pocketbooks to make St. John's a place of welcome for guests, respecting their dignity at the end of a hard day for most of them. St. John's also encourages guests to volunteer to maintain and/or learn soft skills for the workforce.  Guests are referred to community resources for self-help skills.

Being with the homeless is an inner call I have received where I find God among us. Some of the most appreciative people I have met are of this population. When people lose so much in today's society they often respond with deep gratitude when someone treats them with dignity and compassion or shows a small amount of kindness. When was the last time someone thanked you for sitting and sharing a meal with them? Our guests are caring people. They care about each other as well as the staff. I often ask myself, "If I were in their shoes, where would I be?  How would I respond?"

God reveals his face in many facets as I walk among our guests.  I encounter God among us through listening to their stories as we eat a wonderful meal provided by volunteers; sitting and talking one on one; rejoicing when someone finds a job; encouraging some to take their medications; or giving some donated clothing.  I also encourage guests to meet with case managers to get connected with services in the community.

I hope that I am a ray of hope in their difficult situation.

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LISTENING AND CONNECTING: Sister Anne Margaret Carmody catches up with shelter guest Rodney Lax. (Sister Laura Zelten photo)