Homeless Hospitality: Somos Familia

Today we went back to help the Missionary Fathers of Charity at the two soup kitchens. The day began very relaxed since we didn’t have to arrive at the sites until 10am for a guided holy hour by Father Sergio. He used the image of the “Woman at the Well” and how Jesus did not have to go through Samaria, but did specifically to find that woman and be in relationship with her. He asked where was the Lord waiting to meet us? Let’s just say the answer came quicker than expected in the day.

After the Holy Hour, some of us went to the soup kitchen for men and some stayed to make more sandwiches and serve the women. Being with the men surprised many of us since many of them are rough and tough from the streets, are involved with drugs, and many actually know English. Several who talked to us knew English fluently from time in the US before being deported. They were excited to speak English again and were very open in sharing their story.

John Utecht (Archdiocese of Saint Paul Minneapolis), Michael Selenski (ASPM), Nathan Hansen (New Ulm) help serve food at the Men’s kitchen.

At the women’s shelter, we had a similar experience from yesterday except that Father Floeder gave a half-hour talk and led the rosary before lunch. He spoke about how there are lies in our life that we accept and influence how we live. Our identity comes from relationship with the Father as beloved sons and daughters.

(Father Floeder giving his talk to the women)

Above L to R: Michael Selenski, Nathan Pacer (Rockford), and Nathan Hansen pour drinks for the women.

Below: Nicolas Haiar (Sioux Falls), Jacob Toma (Duluth), and Mike Selenski wash dishes after lunch.

The man with the mouth piano was back and played more Beatles tunes for us.

Then came the fun(?) part of the day…

We went to a square a few blocks away from  the edge of downtown and found a whole group of poor and homeless to give sandwiches and water. The sandwiches were gone within 10 minutes and some men lingered talking to us. If it weren’t for the fact that we brought sandwiches and the Fathers of Charity visit there, I would not have wanted to walk past this place alone.

Above: Scott Padernos (Duluth) pours water for the homeless or passing by construction workers. Below: Michael Selenski and Nate Pacer do the same.

However, when one of the men was asked if he had family, he gestured around and said “somos familia”: we are all family. And this was true. One man had a trash bag cleaning up leftovers which seemed somewhat comical considering the surrounding, but this was their home. He was being responsible for the “familia.” One of the seminarians reflected how Fr. Sergio had said earlier that the homeless are lonely. It can be easy I think at least for me to dehumanize people in a way in a tough spot like this or say “they should just get a job.” But somos familia.

We learned this lesson very soon when one of the cars we took ran out of gas and we couldn’t leave due to a um…full van.

(Um…thats a lot to caption this late at night)

The above picture is a packed van with 5 in the car. No way they are getting in there. That’s when “Somos familia” kicked in. We ended up stranded for an hour and a half trying to figure out what to do. It soon became apparent to those around we were stuck. Some of the homeless living in that square came over and helped us try to siphon gas from the van. Didn’t work. A construction worker saw our plight and gave us a gas can. A teacher at the school across the street let us push the car up to their door and let us use their baños (restrooms). People passing by held back traffic as we backed out once we got gas. In that square, “somos familia,” we are all family and it felt safe in an odd way.

(A gas can in time of crisis…who would have thought.)

Coming back in the crowded van and at sharing of graces, a common theme was how much we try to be individualistic and get by ourselves which is a lie to keep us isolated from relationship with God the Father. Here in Mexico, we have experienced love, joy, and relationships with total strangers of different language, culture, race, age, income level, and status, but in it all…. “somos familia.” We are all growing in our relationship with God together through loving each other.

Tomorrow, some fun and historical/cultural exposure at the pyramids with hopefully a full tank of gas. We are all gassed (tired) after today.





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