Homeless Jesus Fall
Photo provided by: 
Mae Desaire

Side-by-Side Saturdays

Before Covid hit, The Basilica St. Vincent de Paul Ministry began strategically evaluating our ministries and listening to the needs of the community. Grounding ourselves in prayer and intentionally discerning direction, we have come out of the pandemic with a new model of ministry for Saturdays at The Basilica. While we continue to provide services and resources during weekday SVdP Ministry, we are beginning a new chapter on Saturdays. We would love your participation!

This new opportunity of SVdP Ministry on Saturday mornings unites a strong invitation by Pope Francis and an articulated need in our community.

A Clear Invitation

Pope Francis continually calls us to reach out to others in a “culture of encounter.” He invites us to meet people, engage in dialogue, and create relationships. More specifically, he encourages us to engage with people who are different from us: we are challenged to listen, respect, and build bridges.

An Articulated Community Need

Our parishioner leaders met with people who have utilized Basilica SVdP services, those with lived experience of homelessness, and people who work in partner non-profits in Minneapolis. We listened for unmet needs that could be addressed during 90 minutes on Saturday mornings at The Basilica. A strong message came through: While there are a lot of services provided in the community, a deep unmet need includes helping people feel connected. So often, people feel isolated. Some who experience homelessness spoke of being around all day with being “seen” or without meaningful conversation.

Side-by-Side Saturdays

After much prayer and conversation, we began a new Saturday SVdP program in Spring 2022.

  • We invite The Basilica parishioners to participate not as a “volunteer” who engages in a transactional service with people in need. Rather, you are invited to come and participate side-by-side with others in the community: Those who slept outside last night. Those who stayed at a shelter. Those whose housing is vulnerable. Those whose housing is secure—all coming together, side-by-side, to share values, struggles, and fears—to learn from one another and be enriched by different perspectives.
  • The morning is intentionally structured to ensure respect for all. As we engage with no judgement, we see the inherent dignity in the other and recognize the similarity of our lives.
  • The time begins with a shared breakfast and moves into a facilitated session on personal development, wellness, and healing through things like mediation, art, journaling, physical movement.

Responses:

This new ministry creates a culture of encounter. Some comments of those who participate show the impact of the time together:

  • A Basilica parishioner shared she was nervous to come—not knowing what to expect. But she was deeply moved and was grateful she came. She shared she felt so connected to everyone and left full of hope.
  • A man who had slept at a shelter the night before shared he was unsure what the morning was about. He was grateful for the breakfast and considered leaving—but he stayed. He revealed he was so glad he stayed—feeling hopeful even among his challenges. He felt God’s presence in the group and in himself. Today would be a good day, he said.

It is easy to slip into focusing on what divides us, rather than what binds us together. Our new St. Vincent de Paul Ministry seeks to offer a simple yet profound opportunity to look beyond fear, indifference, or simply distance. Let us grow in love of one another.

Call the Christina Life office for more information or to get involved in Side-by-Side Saturdays or any SVdP Ministry. 

 

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