Saturday, December 11, 2010

Memorial Service for Those Who Died Homeless: Housing is a Human Right

Did you know in the course of a year, 2.5 million to 3.5 million people in the United States will experience homelessness? According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, 74,100 men, women, youth, and children were homeless in 2008-9. This includes those living in shelters or with relatives and friends. Many are losing the battle to survive.

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council, states, “Homelessness dramatically elevates one’s risk of illness, injury and death. Join us as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and the Ignatian Spirituality Project host a Memorial Service for Those Who Died Homeless on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. at Old St. Patrick’s Church, 700 West Adams Street.

“Let’s consider the incarnation through a different lens, the lens of the homeless poor living and dying on our streets. In Chicago, where the abundance of wealth and security is ever present in the bombardment of media messages to buy, buy, buy, there is another reality; the reality of our brothers and sisters — children of God — losing the struggle for their lives. It is to them that we turn to, to memorialize and to ask about the message of beauty and hope that Christmas offers,” said Tom Drexler, executive director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

This Memorial Service and Candle Lighting Ceremony is a way to honor those who died without hope, without a home. It’s an opportunity to give grieving loved ones a moment of remembrance for those they’ve lost as well as a chance to celebrate their lives. “I am convinced that there are certain things that only the weakest and most vulnerable among us can teach us about life. We have to offer hope to those still in the midst of this struggle, a life struggle for survival,” said Wayne Richards, community organizer for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Homelessness is clouded by stereotypes, false assumptions and untruths, but the reality is when the economy slows down, job opportunities decrease. More than a third of manufacturing jobs were lost in the U.S. between 2000 and 2005. Couple that with the link between violence and homelessness, incarceration and homelessness, illiteracy and homelessness, mental illness and homelessness as well as youth growing up in difficult environments that could lead to childhood homelessness, and you have a crisis of epidemic proportions.

In the shadows of the Magnificent Mile, this Memorial Service and Candle Lighting will serve as a reminder to all of us that homelessness is a human struggle. Each individual life is precious; therefore, we should all care about the struggles of others because housing is a human right.

“It is our hope that this Candle Lighting and Memorial Service will help build awareness of this plight that affects so many people across the country, said Tim McCabe, retreat coordinator and development associate for the Ignatian Spirituality Project. “We hope those struggling with this difficult issue will be encouraged to move beyond it.”

For more information on this service, please contact KT Communications at the above number and for more info on the retreats contact Tom Drexler, executive director for the Ignatian Spirituality Project.

About the Ignatian Spirituality Project
Founded in 1999, The Ignatian Spirituality Project (ISP) works to end homelessness by providing Ignatian Retreats to men and women who are homeless and in recovery. ISP has found that people living in shelters and on the streets are confronting enormous obstacles in their transition out of homelessness and into recovery. ISP has pioneered a retreat program, which effectively addresses this need. Spirituality and spiritual retreats have proven to be an effective and important resource in laying a fundamental foundation of hope, which can lead to further and long lasting transformation.

About the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Since 1980, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has had a clear mission: We organize and advocate to prevent and end homelessness because we believe housing is a human right in a just society.CCH advocacy targets access to affordable housing, job training and public schools in Chicago and the suburbs. Community organizers, policy specialists, and public interest attorneys work with people who are impacted by homelessness, including mothers with children, unaccompanied youth, prostitution survivors, ex-offenders, and low-wage workers. CCH runs regular outreach at 30 shelters, transitional housing and street programs across Chicago, involving 4,500 people a year.

About Old St. Patrick’s Church
Founded in 1846, Old St. Patrick’s Church is one of the oldest public buildings in the city of Chicago. Its mission is to extend hospitality to all that find the church on their path. The current church structure, located on the northwest corner of Adams and Des Plaines streets, was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1856. In 1977, Old St. Patrick’s was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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