Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The History of Old St. Pat's Community Outreach Initiatives: Over 155 Years of Outreach to those in Need

Thank you for joining Old St. Patrick’s first charity team for the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The marathon will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2011. Old St. Patrick’s Church is truly honored to be one of the many charities participating in this World-class marathon in our very own city of Chicago.

As an Old St. Pat’s Crossroads Runner, you were asked to raise a minimum of $1,200 ($1,000 if you signed up with Old St. Pat’s prior to Feb. 1) to support Old St. Pat’s Community Outreach Initiatives. Old St. Pat’s has one of the most robust social outreach missions of any Church in the city.

“At the heart of Old St. Pat’s Community Outreach Initiative is a desire to eradicate poverty and homelessness through jobs and education,” said Fr. Thomas J. Hurley, pastor of Old St. Pat’s Church. “Organizations like Horizons for Youth; Global Alliance for Africa; Career Transitions Center of Chicago; Harmony, Hope, & Healing; and Coprodeli U.S.A. are all housed in our Center for Social Concerns building, 703 West Monroe, which is funded and managed by Old St. Pat’s Church.” Additionally, Church members volunteer for over 75 organizations throughout the year, which are considered our “Circle of Concern” and make up the fabric of Old St. Patrick’s Church.” Our resource guide can be found online at

Old St. Patrick’s Church has been supporting worthwhile causes that support those in need for over 155 years. This long history began with the second pastor of Old St. Pat’s, Rev. Dennis Dunne, who served from 1854-to mid 1868. Rev. Dunne was instrumental in forming a chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society on Dec. 31, 1857. Old St. Pat’s was the first church to found a society created specifically to serve the needs of the poor. This chapter included prominent men from the church who supported free schools for Catholic children and raised funds for poor church members. Catholic Charities has its roots in the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Old St. Patrick’s Community Outreach Group was founded over 26 years ago by a small group of members who wanted to dedicate themselves to reaching out to those in need in Chicago’s Westside neighborhoods. Eight volunteers began serving soup and sandwiches at a Franciscan Soup Kitchen on Kinzie Street, just north of the Chicago River (St. Francis Inn). This outreach later turned into the only overnight shelter in Chicago that is open 365 days a year and serves both men and women, it’s called the Franciscan House of Mary & Joseph Shelter.

Today, more than 10 Old St. Pat’s volunteers go to the Franciscan House of Mary & Joseph on a weekly basis to serve soup and sandwiches, purchased by Old St. Pat’s, for lunch and dinner. Over 30 women per month receive manicures from Old St. Pat’s volunteers with all equipment purchased by the church. At least 75 people join forces once a year to paint the interior of the shelter, and again all supplies (and lunch) is purchased by Old St. Patrick’s Church. Additionally, children from the Frances Xavier Warde School participate in two drives per year to provide blankets, pillows, and linen to this shelter, so the youngest on the campus are learning to care for those in need. As a Crossroads Runners, you too are supporting this shelter because the funds you raise on behalf of Old St. Pat’s Community Outreach Initiatives will support our year-round administrative cost and philanthropic efforts associated with supporting this and other worthwhile organizations.

Would you like to learn even more about one of the organizations you will help support? If so, join the Connections February Service Project on Saturday, Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Connections group (made up of Old St. Pat’s members who are 35 years old and up) will be working at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph Shelter, 2715 W. Harrison. The facility shelters and feeds over 250 homeless men and women every night. Although the shelters repair needs are vast, this group will be focusing their attention on the kitchen where meals are prepared and clients eat standing at stainless steel tables. They will need 25 to 30 volunteers to help accomplish the following: paint, repair faucets, stabilize the tables, and hang pictures.

If you are able to help out and would like a deeper understanding of why you are raising funds for Old St. Patrick’s Church, please consider joining us and learning more about the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph Shelter.

As a Crossroads Runners, we will take the journey together in providing you all the support you will need as a runner, but also as a fundraiser. Stay tuned for more information about the history and individual stories of the Old St. Pat’s Community Outreach Initiatives and what your support will help us do to eradicate poverty and homelessness through jobs and education.

We look forward to taking this journey with you and are so glad you have chosen to join us this year. Follow us on Facebook at for continued updates and more info on Old St. Patrick’s Church.

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