A New Week – February 25, 2024

This year, our Parish Lenten Project is for the benefit of the St. Joseph Housing Initiative. Each Lent, every Catholic is asked to take up some form of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and our Parish Lenten Project is an opportunity for us to do that collectively as a parish family, praying, sacrificing, and giving for the good of this valuable Catholic ministry which serves families in need right here in our local community. As a faith-based organization, the mission of SJHI is to create vibrant communities through affordable quality housing where low and moderate income families can thrive, prosper, and build wealth.

From their website, www.stjosephhousing.org:

Those of us who make St. Louis City our home know what a special place it is, and take pride in the joy of living here. It is also clear that our city needs our attention. The Ferguson Commission confirmed alarming statistics about poverty and systemic racial injustices in our St. Louis Area. For example, in St. Louis City, 32% of black residents own their homes compared to 56% of white residents, according to a 2015 study cited by “Forward Through Ferguson: A Path Toward Racial Equity.” The median value of a black-owned home here is $82,000, as opposed to $145,000 for a white-owned home. Additionally, the report points out that by some estimates black St. Louisans are denied home loans at more than twice the rate as white St. Louisans.

The St. Joseph Housing Initiative was born out of a desire to acknowledge, address and combat these inequities. Through the vision and efforts of Bridget Flood, Executive director of the Incarnate Word Foundation, Mike England, President of St. Mary’s High School, Archbishop Robert Carlson, and many others, SJHI was formed.

Our initial focus area is a vibrant section of South City that straddles the Dutchtown and Carondelet neighborhoods. We are here to serve and partner with existing residents and new neighbors in this region, members of the community who deserve the opportunity to build equity through home ownership. Our goal is simple: to invest in families by helping them build financial security. Brick by brick, hand in hand, we are building stronger homes, stabler neighborhoods, and a more vibrant, more humane St. Louis.

Some years ago, many of our parishioners came together to address and improve housing here in our own Shaw neighborhood, making this a more vibrant community and contributing to the success of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish. Now, we can keep this momentum going throughout our city! I feel that the mission of SJHI closely aligns with our parish values and vision for the community and offers us an excellent opportunity to put our faith into action this Lent. So how can you help? First, pray for the success of the St. Joseph Housing Initiative, their current projects, the families waiting for a home, and for all those who need good housing in our metropolitan area. You may make a financial donation to SJHI by using the envelopes provided in Church or online through our parish website. There will be opportunities to volunteer your time constructing, cleaning, and preparing homes this Lent and all year long. Our school children will be collecting supplies for welcome baskets for families and their new homes.    

This weekend, Maureen McCuen, the Executive Director of SJHI, and Annie Purcell, the Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, will be speaking to us about the mission and needs of the St. Joseph Housing Initiative. Let us all come together this Lent in support of this corporal work of mercy: to shelter the homeless.

St. Margaret of Scotland, pray for us! St. Joseph, pray for us!

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