In Solidarity with the Poor
Mothers relax on couches in La Posada’s common room while students from Bowling Green State University watch the children play outside on the playground. This evening, one-year-old Christopher stayed inside with his mom and entertains the Bible study group with his antics.
[singlepic id=55 w=400 h=300 float=right]Peter Range, 31, campus minister for St. Thomas More University Parish, leads the group of La Posada guests in reading Acts: 3 about the coming of the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit is someone we can invoke and should invoke every day of our lives,” he tells the residents.
Peter began helping people in need by serving in soup kitchens in downtown Cleveland while he was as a student at John Carroll University. He later participated in the university’s St. Joseph Labre program. He and other young adults followed the example of the Jesuit priest by preparing meals on Friday nights and taking the meals to the homeless in the streets.
“Christ spent a lot of time with the poor – in solidarity with the poor – and we’re called to do the same,” Peter said. “We’re meant to have, as a Catholic people, a preferential option for the poor.”
“When we think about giving back or serving Christ, we should always think first and foremost about how to serve the poor. It’s in serving that we recognize we’re all in this together and that we’re not that much different from those who are struggling – whether that be materially or spiritually or otherwise. That we are one church, one family. And that we have one ultimate destination and that is to get to heaven.”
When he works with the homeless, Peter always feels like he encounters Christ. At La Posada, he wants the guests to hear the message that they are loved by God and have a purpose for their life. He shares his own story with the guests and invites the others to do the same. Guests are encouraged to talk openly about their lives and the struggles they have been through.
One evening, John* shared his story about getting off the streets and away from drugs and gangs. Another guest began to cry even before it was her turn to share her own story of escaping an abusive relationship.
Life is tough, Peter said, and the Bible study is a group of people who can be together while getting through those tough times and knowing what is important: God and each other.
“It’s kind of like a reassurance – just that Word in the middle of the week,” said Christina, a guest of La Posada. “You can be feeling down and come to the Bible study and hear something that will help you or lift you up.”
A couple of things that Peter pointed out in the Gospel of Matthew helped her. “I’m going to start reading that every day to help me – about not worrying about tomorrow.”
Peter believes he learns more from the guests than he teaches them. “You recognize that life is very difficult,” he said. “That life can be challenging, that you can feel like you want to give up sometimes, but there is always hope, and that hope is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ.
“Often I go down to teach them Scripture, but I learn twice as much about perseverance, about true hope in Christ,” he adds.
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.