Thursday, 14 February 2013 10:41
Before the old gymnasium at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was renovated into Good Shepherd Hall, the Diocese of Wichita – with the help of many parishioners from parishes throughout the diocese – housed and fed homeless men there during the coldest months of winter.
Holy Savior Parish’s gymnasium was used last winter as a shelter during the Cathedral renovation, but Bonnie Toombs, director of the diocesan Respect Life and Social Justice Office, knew a better location was needed – one closer to the downtown area.
In what might have been a stroke of divine intervention, a building just north of the Inter-Faith Ministries office on North Market went up for sale. It was purchased by Inter-Faith Ministries and has been christened as the Spiritual Center. The facility could become the place where the men are housed throughout the entire five months of Warming Souls.
“The building will serve as a somewhat permanent home for the winter ministry for the diocese,” she said. “The location is convenient because it’s close to the downtown area, where other services for the homeless are located, and it’s about five blocks from The Lord’s Diner.”
She said the shelter is a great opportunity for greater collaboration between the diocese and Inter-Faith Ministries to work together to seek better ways to serve this growing population.
Toombs added that feeding the hungry and providing shelter to the homeless fit perfectly into her office’s ministry of respecting life at all ages. “We have a Christian duty to serve our brothers and sisters who are jobless and homeless and hungry,” she said. “The new building will provide continuity over the years to those in need.”
Anne Corriston, executive director of Inter-Faith Ministries, said it may have been a coincidence that the building was placed on the market, “but, we say this all the time at Inter-Faith Ministries: ‘God just wanted this to happen!’”
The building, located at 841 N. Market, was originally constructed as a Lutheran church, and is on the north end of the block, just a parking lot north of the Inter-Faith Ministries office building.
Corriston said the building is an answer to her prayers, Toomb’s prayers, and those of Sandy Swank, director of housing and homeless services for Interfaith Ministries.
“This gives us an opportunity to deepen the relationship of working with the diocese,” Corriston said.
The building has been remodeled but there is much more that can be done, she said. The kitchen and bathrooms have been renovated allowing the ministry to better serve the homeless.
Corriston added that because of the Spiritual Center’s location near low-income housing, Inter-Faith Ministries may provide a summer lunch program in June, July, and the early part of August. The building’s sanctuary area also has enough room for a large conference, she said, or perhaps for something such as a memorial service for someone whose family doesn’t have much money.