Archbishop Hebda helps serve noon meal to the homeless at Catholic Charities in St. Paul

| April 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Archbishop Bernard Hebda helps serve the noon meal at Catholic Charities’ Dorothy Day Place in St. Paul April 12. Tim Marx, Catholic Charities’ president and CEO, wearing a yellow shirt and blue baseball cap, also is part of the serving line. COURTESY MIKE RIO-KEATING, CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS

After celebrating Easter Sunday Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Archbishop Bernard Hebda made an important stop in St. Paul.

He helped serve a noon meal to the homeless at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Dorothy Day Place, which includes a shelter, social services and long-term, low-cost apartments for the needy. He and Tim Marx, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, who also helped cook the meal, worked with several others at the serving line April 12, with gloves and masks on to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“It’s certainly important to be sharing Easter joy,” the archbishop said. “The new life that comes with Jesus transforms, or it should transform us, to want to serve others. This is out of a sense of gratitude for what Jesus offered. This is a chance to give back.”

Before the archbishop arrived, Marx described some of the needs at Catholic Charities, including at least 5,000 cloth face coverings to help protect clients and staff against the virus. People who want to donate can drop items off at Catholic Charities’ distribution center at 341 Chester St. in St Paul. Catholic Charities’ website also has Specific information and FAQs about how to create and deliver homemade face coverings.

Donations and volunteers also are needed and the call is out under Catholic Charities’ “Be the Helper” campaign, Marx said. That can include serving meals or working in the distribution center, donating soap, body wash, sanitizing wipes and other hygiene items, cleaning supplies, food and other goods, he said.

Recently, Catholic Charities moved about 60 elderly people who might be particularly vulnerable to the virus from the St. Paul shelter to a nearby hotel. A similar move with about 50 people occurred at Catholic Charities’ shelter in Minneapolis, Marx said.

In St. Paul, Ramsey County is running an isolation space for people who are homeless and might have the virus across the street from Dorothy Day Place, Marx said.

People are not allowed into Dorothy Day Place unless their temperature is taken and it is not elevated, Marx said. Those accepted into the facility are given a wrist band before they go into the dining area or seek other services.

Catholic Charities’ homeless shelters are among others in the state helped by $26 million of a $330 million COVID-19 relief package passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Tim Walz. But with Catholic Charities’ shelters dependent on private resources for more than 90 percent of their costs, more government assistance is needed, Marx said.

“We are burning at least $1 million of additional expenses a month” because of changes required by COVID-19, Marx said.

That kind of expense is likely to continue, particularly because homeless shelters are in effect part of the health care system, and social distancing and other efforts to prevent spread of the coronavirus and other diseases that might become prevalent are difficult if not impossible in the current shelter environment, he said.

People involved in helping the homeless will be working toward solutions to the social distancing challenge and other needs in a post-COVID-19 world, Marx said. Even the current crisis is far from over, and a second wave is possible, he said.

“When this is over, how do we ‘do shelter’ in a way that is healthy?” Marx asked. “We have to figure out how to do this much better.”

The archbishop helped serve the meals on Easter Sunday. COURTESY MIKE RIOS-KEATING, CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF ST. PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS

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