The John A. Ryan Institute has worked with the Casa Guadalupana Catholic Worker House for the past several years providing help in organizing roundtable discussions, student volunteers and newsletter logistics. This past summer, the house closed due to the difficulty of having a stable live-in community. But through a series of serendipitous, or better, providential encounters, two people emerged (Janet Lewer and Brother Joseph Katzmarek) who wanted to run the Casa as a drop-in center. Terry Nichols, who owns the house, found their idea of using the Casa to reach out and provide community, prayer and support for needy people on the West side, to be a natural next step for the use of the house. Lewer and Katzmarek are meeting Monday evenings with local people, providing meals, clothing, prayer, fellowship and support. Several women volunteers (Deborah Ruddy, Janet Lewer, Mary Kay O’Rourke, Marianna Vielma, Debbie Organ, Mirla Joseph Conlon, Connie Aligada, Teresa Naughton, Maxi Tumusiime and others) will be expanding this ministry to reach out also to Hispanic women who have been victims of abuse. The primary aim is not to provide counseling – though that might be done – but to provide a warm, supportive community and place of prayer where these women can talk freely about their lives, concerns and hopes.
The west side of St. Paul, where the Casa is located, has many needs. Some of the local people have asked for English as a Second Language (ESL) training. There also is a need for legal advice and tax advice. Terry Nichols is talking to the law school and the accounting club to link up some of St. Thomas’ talent and resources to the West Side.
The Casa also is providing lodging for homeless people on an occasional basis. One day, for example, a pregnant Hispanic woman showed up at its door with no place to spend the night – with a below-freezing temperature forecast. She stayed at the Casa, and the next day we were able to get her into Solanus Casey house for more permanent shelter. This kind of event will probably happen more frequently, due to the cold weather. If you have blankets, coats, sweaters, boots and other winter gear, please call Janet Lewer at (651) 645-0423.
Please pray for the Casa and its work. If you have any interest in volunteering, please contact Marianna Vielma at (952) 285-6872. Donations can be sent to the Casa Guadalupana, 655 State St., St. Paul, MN 55107.