Christ in the City sending missionaries to Wichita

Denver’s Christ in the City ministry is sending missionaries to train volunteers to develop relationships with the homeless. (Courtesy photo)

Over the past seven years Fr. Chad Arnold has taken a group of seminarians to Denver during spring break to take part in Christ in the City, a ministry that trains young adults for service to the homeless.

“I saw the work they did. I understood that they would sometimes go into other dioceses at the end of their season for three weeks at a time and I’ve been, for a long while, wanting to bring them into the Diocese of Wichita,” he said last week. “There’s a little bit of a waiting list but we have a good rapport with them.”

The Lord’s Diner has also been interested in partnering with the organization. Last year the Diner sent three staff members to experience Christ in the City’s hands-on approach to street ministry.

Sarah Hoffman, director of Communications and Public Relations for The Lord’s Diner, was among those who visited the Denver-based organization. “The opportunity allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to know, love, and serve the poor and gave us tangible methods to bring back to Wichita,” she said.

Arriving May 19

Five Christ in the City missionaries arrive in Wichita on Sunday, May 19, for a three-week-long service opportunity. They will be joined by seven theologian seminarians and three volunteers. They will split up into teams, each led by a Christ in the City missionary, that will minister throughout downtown Wichita, including The Lord’s Diner.

While Fr. Arnold is unable to participate in the three-week program due to ordinations and a pilgrimage for the newly ordained transitional deacons, The Lord’s Diner staff will help coordinate as needed.

“Unfortunately, it’s about the worst possible time for me personally, so I’m super excited for them trying to get the ground ready, but I will not be here for any of the three weeks,” he said. “Right now I’m just support and organization.”

The male missionaries and participants will be housed at the St. Joseph House of Formation, located near St. Joseph Church. The women will stay with the Adorers of the Blood of Christ whose motherhouse is adjacent to Newman University.

Seeing human dignity

“One of the things I told the Christ in the City missionaries that I’m excited about, is I really appreciate the way they work with the homeless, the way they see the human dignity in the person and love them,” he said.

Because of the St. Joseph House of Formation seminarians’ work with the homeless and with the seminarians in theology interaction with them through Christ in the City, Fr. Arnold said: “A generation of priests will have been trained in that hands-on ministry to the homeless and their charism of seeing the beauty of the human person. I don’t know what that will mean, but I trust that it will be good things for the diocese and our priests.”

Hoffman said one of the teams would be assigned to The Lord’s Diner. “Missionaries and participants will come to the Diner and be able to interact with our guests and build relationships with them during our outreach program in the morning as well as during dinner service in the evening.”

Training Lord’s Diner staff

She said she hopes Christ in the City will be able to train The Lord’s Diner staff and a few volunteers in building relationships and communicating well with their guests.

“So we can then, in turn, take that to all our volunteers and train them on this model of knowing, loving, and serving the poor – rather than just serving them their meal and having them leave – really taking time to cultivate those relationships and be in community with each other.”

Hoffman said she was excited to partner with Christ in the City. “I think it’s going to be really good for our community, for The Lord’s Diner, and for the seminarians.”