On October 4, 1984, the Feast Day of Saint Francis, Fr. Loui Canino, our founder, and the peace and justice committee of St. Anthony’s Shrine along with Governor Dukakis, religious leaders, the faith and business community, and hundreds of concerned citizens marched in procession from Arch Street to 39 Boylston Street and with a dixie land band playing in the background opened the doors of St. Francis House for the very first time. This was thirty-five years ago today.
The passion to create St. Francis House was fueled by a moral indignation that still motivates us today. We believe that no one should be without a place to live and are committed to firmly held beliefs that all people have dignity, should be treated with respect and that when given hope and guidance can in fact put homelessness behind them.
For thirty-five years we have lived those beliefs and seen thousands of lives changed. Every day we welcome the stranger, greet them with love and compassion and offer hope and the supports they need to move onto a better life. In a world that seems to grow more bitter and indifferent to the pain and suffering of others, we are a place that sees past the ugly outer manifestations of years of poverty and abuse and see the beautiful soul of the person standing before us.
I have been blessed to have known so many wonderful staff, volunteers and guests over the years who bring life to the words of Saint Francis, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” In thirty-five years so many lives have been touched and changed because of everything we do as we work together.
To commemorate this day, we held a gathering in our lobby. Staff, volunteers, and guests joined Fr. Tom Conway from Saint Anthony’s Shrine and myself for a brief moment to stand in solidarity as we reflected on our rich past. After, our guests were welcomed to a special roast beef lunch in the dining room.
Thank you to our friends and our supporters for making 35 years of rebuilding lives possible. On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to continue working together, to embrace each other, and to continue saying, “We are so glad to see you.” to every single person who walks through our door.