Shrine of St. Therese offers special time for homeless

By Deirdre Darr,
Executive Director, Shrine of St. Therese

In mid-February Bishop Burns asked that I arrange two outreach days at the Shrine of St. Therese for clients of The Glory Hole in Juneau. As a new resident of Juneau, I knew very little about the place so I did a little research. In 2013, The Glory Hole, a soup kitchen and emergency shelter in downtown Juneau, served over 50,000 meals and offered a warm, dry place to sleep 12,000 times. The Glory Hole has an amazing ministry and offers respite from the burden of homelessness, but it is still a heavy weight to carry and that was the point of Bishop Burns’ plan: to offer clients of The Glory Hole an afternoon of peace.

Leading up to the first outing, new and gently used items were collected at St. Paul’s and the Cathedral. Once delivered to The Glory Hole, the donated items found new, thankful owners. I watched as a man donned a new pair of white athletic shoes replacing his dirty, worn pair.

Five gentlemen from The Glory Hole joined us for the first outing to the Shrine on March 6th. While the weather was cold, it was a beautiful, sunny day and we had stunning views of the Chilkat Mountains. One man told Bishop Burns that the day was “a miracle.”

The weather was even better on the second trip to the Shrine on April 3rd, crystal clear sky, a little warmer and even the whales came up to enjoy the sun. While Bishop Burns gave a tour of the Chapel, one of the ladies shared how much she loved the Shrine and how she felt lighter being there. A little while later she told me she’d be happy to do the dishes after lunch. I told her that it wasn’t necessary and that the only thing she needed to do was to relax and enjoy the peace she felt.

On both occasions The Glory Hole clients enjoyed a homemade meal and desserts. Jeanne Jordan, the Shrine Caretaker, took care of all the special touches from the tablecloths to the fresh flowers to the constant supply of coffee. After lunch Bishop Burns led the group in Stations of the Cross around Shrine Island.

Bishop Edward Burns, second from left, joins Glory Hole clients at the Shrine of St. Therese on April 3.
Bishop Edward Burns, second from left, joins Glory Hole clients at the Shrine of St. Therese on April 3.

As Bishop Burns read the scripture from the Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus the force of what we were doing really hit home. “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you drink?…Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me.” (Mt 25:37-40) I cooked for Christ. Bishop Burns ate with Christ and led Christ in prayer. It was Christ who experienced a miracle. It was Christ’s burden that was lightened.

It reminded me of a quote from St. Vincent de Paul, “We cannot better assure our eternal happiness than by living and dying in the service of the poor, in the arms of Providence, and with genuine renouncement of ourselves in order to follow Jesus Christ.”

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