At Holy Name, all-night fire illuminates homeless’ plight

| December 17, 2015 | 0 Comments
Parishioners at Holy Name of Jesus in Medina, including fifth-grade faith formation students and assistant teacher Ben Henrich, left, pray a rosary Dec. 16 at the 24-hour event Fire For Discipleship to raise money for the homeless. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Parishioners at Holy Name of Jesus in Medina, including fifth-grade faith formation students and assistant teacher Ben Henrich, left, pray a rosary Dec. 16 at the 24-hour event Fire For Discipleship to raise money for the homeless. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

A crackling fire near the entrance of Holy Name of Jesus in Medina Dec. 16 beckoned folks to stop by for warmth and s’mores.

But there was a more serious purpose to the flames, which became obvious when 14 fifth-graders in the parish’s faith formation program picked up their rosaries and folded their hands in the direction of teacher Lori Henrich.

She gathered them together to pray for the homeless, part of a 24-hour event at Holy Name called Fire For Discipleship, which began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 7:30 the next morning. It is part of Sleep Out, a larger program in the western suburbs that raises awareness and funds for the homeless in their communities.

The Sleep Out campaign is an initiative of Plymouth-based Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners. In its 36th year, IOCP has served 1,847 families this year, 285 of whom are homeless. This year’s Sleep Out campaign is aiming to raise $2.2 million and serve 2,033 families. Holy Name is approaching $40,000 raised in this year’s Fire For Discipleship, with all funds going to IOCP.

For Henrich, spending an hour outside praying is a perfect fit for her faith formation class.

“I love that it gives them an opportunity to think about the homeless people in the community,” she said. “And, I think going outside when it’s a little cold and windy can make them feel what it would be like to be homeless.”

One of her students, Sergio Bajetti, agreed. “It helps me understand what it’s like for them,” he said. “I think it’s nice to do this, to help people out and make them believe that Jesus loves them.”

One of the most passionate supporters of Holy Name’s program is Deacon Dennis Hanson, who planned to spend the entire 24 hours by the fire. He has participated for the last five years, and believes it’s a great way to help the homeless in the community. He noted that 31 ministries and 40 families — about 350 people in all — signed up to participate at Fire For Discipleship this year.

“I am concerned about loving other people as Christ has loved us,” Deacon Hanson said. “It’s about getting people aware and feeling like they can do something about those in need.”

Category: Local News