Serving the poor and homeless in Detroit

Fr. Tim McCabe is the Director of the Pope Francis Center in Detroit, Michigan. His apostolate serves the poor and homeless of the city. The Center was one of the works of the United States Midwest Province (UMI) visited by Fr. General Arturo Sosa in early April.

In Detroit, a Jesuit Center named after Pope Francis

By Tim McCabe, SJ | Pope Francis Center, Detroit, Michigan (USA)

The consolation was palpable as Father General stepped from his vehicle in front of the nearly completed 60,000 square foot housing facility for the homeless in Detroit. The facility, named after Pope Francis, takes a revolutionary approach to addressing the root causes of homelessness through trauma informed care and radical love and acceptance. Father Sosa’s presence signified the joyful convergence of the second Universal Apostolic Preference and the living expression of its mandate “to walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice”.

At nearly the same historical moment that the Society of Jesus was discerning the Universal Apostolic Preferences, the Pope Francis Center team in Detroit was engaged in their own discernment about how to respond to the growing number of people without shelter. For over thirty years, Jesuits and their lay colleagues have provided a place of respite for the homeless in downtown Detroit located at Saints Peter and Paul church. The day-center provides food, clothing, showers, laundry, and a host of other services such as medical and dental care. Then in 2017, a holy discontent began to surface among the staff and volunteers. We began to ask ourselves if our transactional approach to those experiencing homelessness was enough or if we ought to be thinking about a more transformational way, rooted in social and economic justice?


The words of Father Sosa regarding this Apostolic Preference resonated in our desires and longings for the magis: “the path we seek to follow with the poor is one that promotes social justice and the change of economic, political and social structures that generate injustice; this path is a necessary dimension of the reconciliation of individuals, peoples, and their cultures with one another, with nature, and with God.”

The time Father Sosa spent with us made clear his love for the poor. As we undertake this monumental endeavor to end homelessness on our city, Father Sosa’s visit showed us we are part of something much bigger than our own efforts. These universal priorities are not just words on paper but, confirmed by the Holy Father, they are concrete expressions of love in action. We are doers of the Word.

For those who are homeless, who so often feel disregarded and unseen, it matters that the head of the worldwide Jesuits came not only to bless the altar in our chapel but to bless out mission to restore dignity and hope to those who too often feel they have neither. While the homeless guests of the Pope Francis Center may not have understood all the particulars of Father General’s visit, they know that a very important person from the Catholic Church came from halfway around the world because he cares about them.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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