Fifteen years ago, the St. Boniface church in San Francisco opened its doors for homeless people in need of shelter, and this project, known as the 2004 The Gubbio Project, was initiated by Father Louis Vitale of the church, along with community activist Shelly Roder.
Since then, hundreds of people pass through the church daily, sleeping on the pews, covered with blankets provided by the staff.
The Gubbio Project’s website reports:
“No questions are asked when our guests walk into the churches; in an effort to remove all barriers to entry, there are no sign-in sheets or intake forms. No one has ever been turned away; all are welcomed, respected and treated with dignity”.
Even though 2/3 of the church is reserved for the needs of the project, it is still open for local churchgoers during the day.
According to a representative of Gubbio:
“This sends a powerful message to our unhoused neighbors – they are in essence part of the community, not to be kicked out when those with homes come in to worship. It also sends a message to those attending mass – the community includes the tired, the poor, those with mental health issues and those who are wet, cold and dirty.”
People who pass through the facility are not treated like prisoners, which is often the case in many homeless shelters, and 95 percent of those surveyed maintain that it is safe and much different.
According to TruthTheory, these are the three goals of this project:
- “to provide a clean, beautiful, quiet, and safe space for people to rest during the day.
- to cultivate a sense of community among the homeless and a sense of understanding and shared responsibility in the broader community.
- to attend to the physical, social, psychological and spiritual well-being of homeless guests who share the Gubbio space at St. Boniface and St. John.”
Unfortunately, homeless people are rarely treated with kindness, and there are numerous attempts to force them out, and laws with the aim to prevent the spread of disease.
Activists claim that such laws actually criminalize the homeless.
According to Mark Lane:
“It means they are criminalizing homelessness. They’ve created four laws against the homeless. No camping, no sleeping in cars, no panhandling and no feeding the homeless”.
We are living in a cruel world, and it seems that many of us have forgotten about the value of kindness. We cannot solve the issue by ignoring it, but we need to decide and help the homeless people.
This church is a live example of kind-heartedness, care, and goodwill, which are unfortunately underrated virtues nowadays.