I am pleased to be here today to celebrate our inaugural ONE CHALLENGE. Thank you all for attending what marks an exciting time for Catholic Street Missionaries.
Let me first explain a bit about how and why I came to choose ONE CHALLENGE.
I will briefly talk about my background. My mother was raised Catholic, being French and Irish. My father was raised with no religion. When my parents decided to marry my father agreed to raise the children Catholic. Soon after, my dad would join the Catholic faith and to this day he is a devout Catholic. I can say that both my parents set a good example for my brother, sister and I in the faith.
Growing up, I went to a public school. I had few Catholic friends except for those that I met on Sundays at church. My mom would teach me Catechism at home as she taught prep for many years.
I found myself lacking friendships in the Catholic faith as I entered a public high school. When I graduated from high school I was accepted to a Catholic College on the UBC Campus and would make a few friends. I was shy living on my own for the first time.
I went away from my faith in my early twenties and became interested in other religions and would soon find myself hitting a brick wall. When I hit the age of 23 I found myself in an abusive relationship which, after two years, left me very broken. Long story short, I was able to get out of that relationship but then at that time I also heard of the passing of a dear friend which would leave me flat on my back. My friend Diego knew me well and it was painful to hear of his passing. What stood out to me most about him was his compassionate heart and his want to help the homeless. When he passed I became closer to God and was attending mass regularly. God was the only one who could heal me. I also wanted to believe Diego was in a better place.
Soon after the death of Diego, I wanted to give up worldly endeavours and live simply. I also wanted to give back to the community. My friend introduced me to St. Mary’s parish and that’s where I met Mildred. Mildred was so jovial and positive. I thought to myself that she has her priorities straight and I wanted to be like her. Mildred invited me to join Catholic Street Missionaries once a week and that is where I first began working with the homeless in November of 2017.
Despite the pain I went through, Homeless Outreach helped to heal me. Instead of focusing on my own problems, I was working with people who were in much worse conditions than I had been in. I also learned from their stories that they would share with me. One man helped me to be more grateful for what I had in my life. He saw that every good thing he received was a gift from God and he thanked God everyday for his life. Another young woman inspired me with her courage to keep going on in life despite her living conditions. She plays violin and uses her gifts to bring the joy of music to other people’s lives. Surely I had something I could give back as well.
Now that I do homeless outreach full-time, I try to console, comfort and listen to the stories of those we encounter on the streets. I want to be an instrument of God to reach out and touch.