July 12 marked the start of a new chapter for Christ in the City.
The missionaries and volunteers began to pack two years of memories in the historic Seton House downtown and headed for their new home in St. Joseph Church’s former friary.
With each moving box packed and loaded, the missionaries said they carried a tinge of sadness yet joyful anticipation at what lay ahead.
“The Seton House was an absolute gift for us,” said director Yvonne Noggle. “There is a bit of a sadness in leaving, but we’re thankful God had provided for us this place as well.”
Nearly two years ago the homeless ministry’s missionaries moved into the former Missionaries of Charity convent blocks from the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The spot was ideal for expanding their services to the poor while gathering all the missionaries under one roof for spiritual and academic formation.
Yet after years of being on the market, the property sold.
Following in the footsteps of the Missionaries of Charity, Christ in the City found a new home at St. Joseph Church, where the nuns also moved after caring for AIDS patients at the Seton House. The posh neighborhood developing around Seton House motivated them to move to the lower-income area around Sixth Avenue and Galapago Street.
“The Missionaries of Charity came here because of that. This is a poor area,” Noggle said. “We’re looking forward to serving the needs of this area as well in addition to the areas we’ve already been serving in.”
The ministry will nearly double the time spent caring for the needy by expanding its street route to Santa Fe. The 15 missionaries expected in August will continue to serve along the Capitol Hill area and 16th Street Mall, she said.
With the move comes new ventures Christ in the City hopes to pursue, including sending more missionaries to its Colorado Springs location, and expanding to Philadelphia and Chile.
Noggle said she plans to begin a parish ambassador program with the aid of Catholic Charities. The program will involve the missionaries who will visit parishes and train the community on how to serve the poor.
“This is to unite the people in the pews to those on the streets. From the pews to the poor. That’s the goal,” she said. “This draws from the principle of subsidiarity. Let the local people decide how to best serve their local folks.”
Missionary Kevin Farrow said he would encourage everyone to go and serve the poor.
“Don’t give them money. Just talk to them,” he said. “The homeless are pretty well taken care of. What they need is God.”
In fact, ministering to the poor often helps the missionaries with their own needs.
“It’s what I needed,” said Alex Johannigman, a missionary.
As volunteers from Catholic Charities, Hercules Industries, the Knights of Columbus and Holy Name Parish helped move Christ in the City’s belongings to St. Joseph, Noggle reflected that there was an air of excitement as they began their next chapter.
“We’re very available to what God wants of us here in this location.”