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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Denny’s Holiday Experiment

Last year, at this time of the Holidays, you may remember the homeless received Subway $5 Sandwich Deal gift cards. This year, on Thanksgiving Day, it was a little different. The homeless received Denny’s $6.50 breakfast or lunch gift cards. The cards parallel Denny’s new menu, $2, $4, $6, $8. It is safe to say this Holiday experiment was a BIG hit! The cards were donated along with handmade greeting cards created and given by the teens of the youth group of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Paula, CA. The touching sentiments in the cards, combined with the hope of a hot breakfast brought tears to many homeless eyes. We remember especially the 3 poor migrant day workers, hungry, cold and alone in the park. We also remember, the “family” of six homeless persons who begged for more gift cards as they were very hungry.

Between now and Christmas, please make it a point to visit the Servants of the Father of Mercy website and sponsor 1 or 2 Denny’s gift cards (or as many as you wish) to be given out in your family’s name on Christmas Day. 100% of your donation will go directly to a homeless person. God bless you for your compassion and mercy for the poor homeless we serve. Donate at:
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Donate! sponsor a Denny's Holiday dining gift card for $10 for the homeless at or post checks to - Servants of the Father of Mercy, Inc., P.O. Box 42001, Los Angeles, CA 90042. All Donations are Tax Deductible

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One Heck of a Wonderful Way to Get Into the Advent Christmas Spirit!

Advent is just days away, and before you know it, Christmas will be here soon after! It's a Holiday season that calls on us to be awake to the very presence of Christ in the world. The following litany calls us to be aware of God who dwells with those who are homeless. We recall also, at this time, the journey of the homeless Holy Family and their search for shelter (Luke 2:7).

The following litany was written by senior-high young people from Newman Congregational Church, UCC in Rumford, Rhode Island. Each year the youth of Newman, along with other youth groups in the Rhode Island Conference, participate in Homeless Awareness weekends. They do a homeless sleep-out during which they keep a twenty-four hour vigil outside, living in the cold of Rhode Island's winter. Essentially, they live and sleep on the street as a homeless person.

While the vigil is held, money is raised and clothing and food is contributed to a local emergency shelter downtown. Staff from the shelter provides opportunities for interactions between the youth and persons who are homeless. The youth return to the Newman church straight from the street. There they lead the congregation in worship. The following litany was written as part of that service. Use this litany in your own congregation or as inspiration to discern how God may be calling your church to be in ministry with those who are homeless during these holy days of Advent through Christmas and Epiphany.

Advent Litany for the Homeless

Presider: Those who are homeless can be seen in doorways, in bus stations, in parks, and on the roadside. They can be found in abandoned buildings, in shelters, and in parked cars. In the hustle and bustle of our lives we walk by them, for they are invisible to us. Let us pray this litany and ask for God's help . . .

People: O God, help us slow down our fast-paced lives and give us the strength to open our eyes to those who are homeless.

Presider: They are the men, women, and children who due to unfortunate circumstances are left without a place to live and food to nourish them.

People: O God, you call us to help them, as best we are able.

Presider: They have stories rich in both joy and sadness to tell. They seem voiceless, because we are too involved in our own lives to take time to listen.
People: O, God, please help us to find the courage to stop and listen to the stories of your people.

Presider: Often they are lonesome, with very few people willing to care for them or to provide them with the warmth they deserve.

People: O God, help us to open our hearts to accept your people whom society has abandoned.

Presider: They are your children. They are similar to us. They too have hopes, dreams, desires, and aspirations.

People: O God, help us open our minds so we may recognize all on the earth as your people.

Presider: These are your people filled with your love and goodness—although often overlooked.

People: O God, open our minds to allow us to see the beauty in all of your people.

Presider: They frighten us because we do not know their stories. They frighten us because deep down we know that we can easily become one of them.

Presider: O God, forgive us for our fears and help us to remember that your light shines through them just as brightly as it shines through any of your children.

This litany was written by senior-high youth from Newman Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Rumford, Rhode Island: Kenny Williams, Kaitlin Walsh, Mida McKenrick, Erin Walsh, Kelsey Oliver, and the interim associate pastor, Monica Ouellette. For more information about Newman Congregational's Homeless Awareness Weekend, contact Ruth Hainsworth, Minister of Christian Education, by e-mail at
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Proof of the Afterlife

Servants of the Father of Mercy Announces
A Free Lecture & Book Signing
Come and Hear . . .
Author, Br. Gary Joseph Launch His Hope-Filled New Book Titled:

When: Friday, December 3, 2010
Where: Santa Paula Community Center
530 West Main Street, Santa Paula, CA 93060
Time: 7pm to 9pm
Live Music by Peter Torsiello, OCP Artist & Worship Leader
Complimentary Refreshments Served

Proof of the Afterlife - The Conversation Continues is a true story about one man's crossing over to the Other Side in September of 2005, when, after an out of control heart arrhythmia at 1:15am, he wakes up dead in the afterlife, and comes back thirty minutes later to tell about it. In the words of his family physician, "Dude, you have been somewhere very few people ever return from." Since that time, this book chronicles his somewhat unusual daily life - one of frequent God-encounters, and visits from the other side by family and friends on a mission to facilitate love, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

So pick up the book and come along for your own hope-filled journey into the reality of eternal life. Struggling with family, relationships, terminal illness or just life in general? This book will lead you to concrete, indisputable, life-changing and reassuring facts: God is real! He is alive and well, and in control. Your family and friends who have passed on are very much alive. They love you and are waiting for you to come home. The book may be purchased online at or

- Cautionary Note -

While reading Proof of the Afterlife – The Conversation Continues, God-encounters are possible, weeping and grieving may occur, and peace may flood your soul. Uncontrollable laughter and joy may follow!

The author, Br. Gary Joseph, s.F.m., may be reached for presentations and speaking engagements by sending email to

Monday, November 15, 2010

Now You Know the Rest of the Story Behind The “Jesus Was Homeless” T-Shirt

By Shane
Jesus teaches that it is nothing extraordinary to love our friends and relatives, people who think and look like us. He says, "Even the pagans and sinners love their friends." (Matthew 5). But we are to be extraordinary; we are to love people who do not think or even look like us - even our enemies.

One of my favorite [Bible] passages is where Jesus tells us how to throw a party in Luke 14, only he doesn't actually call it a "party." He's talking to a bunch of religious folks, so he calls it a "banquet," but he's talking about a party. He says, "When you give a banquet do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, and you will be blessed." I had never really been to a party like that. All the parties my friends threw, Christian or not, were ones where you invite people who are like you – friends, relatives, rich neighbors, yep. We must have not highlighted that verse! Here's Jesus telling us not to throw parties like that.

A few years ago, I caught a glimpse of this kind of party, although it got us into some trouble. Philadelphia had begun to pass anti-homeless legislation, making it illegal to sleep in the parks, illegal to ask for money, illegal to lie down on the sidewalks (which they chose to implement on Dr. King's Birthday!). Ironically, the hub for many of these laws was at Love Park, which is a historic site in Philly known for its skateboarding (which was also made illegal). Love Park was a place where homeless folks hung out. It was visible, safe, and central. Folks knew they could go there to give out food or clothing to folks on the street. It's where we used to go back in college, and there are some nice steam vents that kept people warm. One of the boldest moves of the city was passing an ordinance that banned all food from the park. It specifically reads, "All persons must cease and desist from distributing food." And they began fining those of us who continued to share food. We started wondering what in the world it meant to love our neighbor as ourselves, when they were being jailed for sleeping and eating. As St. Augustine said, "An unjust law is no law at all." What did it mean to submit to authority and yet uphold God's law of love? Either we had to invite them into our home (which reached capacity), or we wanted to be out with them, in solidarity. So we threw a party in Love Park.

About a hundred of us gathered in Love Park with homeless friends. We worshiped, sang, and prayed. Then we served communion… which was illegal. With clergy and city officials there in support, and police and media surrounding us, we celebrated communion. Most of the police sat back and watched, not daring to arrest anyone, especially during communion. Then we would continue the "breaking of the bread" bringing in the pizzas. It was a love feast, and we then slept out overnight in the park with our homeless friends. We did that week after week, with police watching over us and media standing by. And then one night after the worship, as we slept under the "Love Park" sign, which we had covered up with a big question mark, the police circled the park and came in and arrested all of us there. Not the best wake up call. We were taken to jail in handcuffs. Many of us continued sleeping out over and over and were arrested over and over. Sometimes the police were very sympathetic and agreed that we should not be arrested for sleeping.

A bunch of big-wig lawyers called offering to represent us. We were very thankful and invited them to come and support us, but we decided to be represented by a homeless friend, so our buddy, Fonz agreed to be our spokesperson.

As we stood before the judge, I wore a shirt that read: "Jesus was Homeless." The judge asked me to step forward, and I did. He read my shirt aloud, and said, "Hmmm. I didn't know that." I said to him, "Yes sir, in the Scriptures Jesus says that 'foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.'" Then the judge paused pensively and said, "You guys might stand a chance." And we did.

As we went before the court, we read all of the Scriptures where Jesus warns the disciples that they will be dragged before courts and jails and they had new meaning. He warned them not to worry about what to say so we didn't. When the time came for us to testify, Fonz stood up in court and said, "Your Honor, we think these laws are wrong." We said "Amen."

The prosecutor had her stuff together. In court I accidentally called her the “persecutor”. She was not amused. The District Attorney was not joking around. We faced numerous charges, jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and hours and hours of community service (imagine that!). The judge said to the court, "What is in question here is not whether or not these folks broke the law, that is quite clear … what is in question is the constitutionality of the laws." The DA shot back, "The Constitutionality of the law is not before this court." And the DA threw her papers on the table. The judge retorted, "The Constitutionality of the law is before every court. Let me remind the court that if it weren't for people who broke the unjust laws, we wouldn't have the freedom that we do have. We'd still have slavery. That's the story of this country from the Boston Tea Party to the Civil Rights movement. These people are not criminals; they are freedom fighters. I find them all not guilty, on every charge." The papers called it a "Revolutionary Court Decision." And the judge asked us for a "Jesus was homeless" t-shirt.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Embracing Disgrace, Scorn and Insult, Hunger, Thirst, Cold and Heat

By Catherine of Sienna

“I long to see your heart and affection stripped of the world and of yourself. There is no other way we can be clothed in Christ crucified, since the world has nothing in common with God. The world's disordered affection loves pride, and God loves humility. The world looks for honor, status and greatness and God spurned these things, embracing disgrace, scorn and insult, hunger, thirst, cold and heat, even to a shameful death on the cross. By this death of his gave honor to the Father, and we were restored to grace. The world looks to please creatures, unconcerned about displeasing the Creator.

“Christ never looked to anything but to fulfill his eternal Father's command for the sake of our salvation. He embraced voluntary poverty and clothed himself in it, while the world seeks great wealth. They are really different from one another. So, if our heart is clothed in the world it is necessarily stripped of God, and if it is stripped of the world, it is necessarily filled with God. This is what our Savior said: "No one can serve two masters. If you serve one, you hold the other in contempt." We must, then, very conscientiously free our heart and affection from this tyrant, the world, and set it on God, completely free and sincere, letting nothing come between ourselves and him. We must not be two-faced or love falsely, since he is our dear God, and he keeps his eyes on us, seeing our hidden and inmost heart.”

St. Catherine of Sienna died in 1380. She is a Doctor of the Church, was a Dominican, a stigmatist and papal counselor.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rad Guide to Living out of your Porsche

A couple of years back, Homeless In America reported on “Radified,” a mobile-homeless guy, who was living in the parks and beaches around Laguna Beach in So Cal. He refers to his particular group of homeless people as “mobile hobos.” As an author, he is known for his frugal ways and street-smart wisdom in the book, Rad Guide to Living out of your Porsche. In the book, “Radified” prepares the working poor to live out of their cars in Southern California’s unaffordable housing market. Essential to the lifestyle is having an old VW Van, preferably one from the 60's. But you do receive extra bonus points, like “Radified” for living out of a Porsche. A cell phone and wireless laptop is a must. Extras include having a list of all coffee shops with free wireless access and carrying a Bible. Here is his comprehensive “essentials” and “extras” list.

• Old VW Van, preferably from the 60's (bonus points for living out of your Porsche)
• Tent & sleeping bag
• Health club membership (for showers)
• Cell phone
• Wireless Laptop
• PO Box (mail)
• Library card (for free wireless access)
• Quarters (for laundry)
• Credit card (so you don't have to carry cash)
• Storage facility (for your stuff, preferably one you can access 24x7)

• Register at local Community College (for more wireless access, don't have to actually take a class to register)
• Locations of all coffee shops with free wireless access
AT&T WiFi wireless account (for even more wireless access, available at most Starbucks) and a Bible.

“Radified” encourages "mobile hobos" to take comfort in knowing that Jesus was a homeless guy. "And Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.'” (Matthew 8:20)
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Donate! at or post checks to - Servants of the Father of Mercy, Inc., P.O. Box 42001, Los Angeles, CA 90042. All Donations are Tax Deductible

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Homeless Angel

Artist and sculptor, Robert Borson, has an innovative approach to expressing the heavenly virtues of humility and poverty with the celestial holiness of angels in this unique and inspirational sculpture titled, “Homeless Angel.”

The Homeless Angel embodies a familiar literary motif – the idea that angels can appear in unexpected places and may not always be immediately recognized for what they are. In this work (photo) an angel with a broken wing pushes a creaky shopping cart laden with symbols and icons of major world religions along the sidewalk. The sculpture juxtaposes mystical elements (wings, religious icons) with gritty reality (cigarette butts, broken glass, shabby clothes). “Homeless Angel” is sculpted with welded aluminum and Winterstone, standing 22 in. high, 48 in. wide, and 17 in. depth. There are more angelic works by Robert Borson at
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How do kids get involved helping the homeless?

By Hobo Mama

Ideas will vary depending on the age of your kids, but even toddlers could start doing some of the basics. Older kids might be very interested, especially if they're aware of panhandlers or homeless people they see sleeping on the streets and want to understand and do something. Often it's the youngest and poorest among us who are the most generous, so let them teach you as you enter this project together.

•Take your kids shopping for the items that go in the homeless [zipper] bags. Let them make some of the choices or pick out varieties (say, what kind of fruit cup or what color socks).

•Solicit help with sorting and bagging the items. It can even be a fun lesson in patterns or counting for young kids. (Ex. Each bag gets two red granola bars and one yellow.) Let older kids arrange some of the unique items in a way that seems logical and pleasing to them.

•Use this whole experience as a springboard to conversations about how some of us have families and homes and some of us don't. You can talk about responsibilities and compassion, and ask (older kids, especially) what they think about the subject (and listen to the answers!). Point out that many homeless people are not the ones we see on the streets, and they include families with young children just like yours. If you just ignore panhandlers, you might inadvertently teach your kids a value of disregarding need, unless you discuss the nuances of the situation, as they are able to understand.

More on the Internet:
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