I’ve become a Labre “junkie” of late. At the beginning of the year, I had the pious thought that I would make Labre a weekly thing, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Of course, my motivation for doing Labre was more out of a vague sense of duty than out of heartfelt love. Ergo, that commitment quickly fell by the wayside, so I could attend cookouts, plays, and, well, sit around the house and do nothing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with doing these things!) Of late, however, I have been going on Labre week in and week out. That’s because I have let my heart been melted by these people who we serve Sunday after Sunday.
My “addiction” to Labre might have begun through St. Bernard’s Brotherhood of Movers, my Monday Arrupe commitment. We helped move Tom Linnen, a man the Labre ministry has been serving for 7 years, into a new home on Norwood road in Cleveland. My heart was really moved seeing this man, who was homeless only a few years ago, move into a surprisingly clean and spacious new apartment in a quiet neighborhood.
This is what the Labre ministry can do, so long as those we serve cooperate with graces God works through this ministry. This is how true social change can occur: not through vast, sweeping acts of Congress, or through military might, but through the concrete caring of Christian charity. It’s brought men and women like Tom not only to have a house, but to have a home.
These were the thoughts running through my head after the move. And after I went on the East route the following Sunday to see the way Tom had arranged his place. And again last night as I participated in a prayer service to bless Tom’s new home, with 30 young men and women of the Labre ministry around me. And later that night, I thought, yes, this is all the evidence one needs that the small acts of Christian charity, here begun so simply ten years ago by Jim Skerl and others, truly do add up to become life-transforming for so many people. I doubted this so many times during my service in the St. Joseph’s Project via the Sons of St. Patrick at Boston College. Surely, Jim and his companions had similar doubts early on in the Labre ministry. But through their faithfulness, through the friendships those men and women have built over the years, men like Tom have not only a true home, but true friends, and true hope.
If every segment of the human family did what the Labre ministry humbly does in this humble corner of the world, think of what the wondrous result could be.