Notes From Near and Far

Christine Herlihy

Marian Centre Regina

As I look out my window, I am reminded of the Sesame Street song, “Who Are the People in My Neighborhood?” The neighborhood around Marian Centre, a neighborhood where many homeless live, is changing.

More and more facilities are opening and serving food on a daily basis, along with many other services such as offering clothing, finding housing, counselling and safe needle sites. Our director Charlie Cavanaugh makes a point to connect with these new places and discover exactly what they are offering.

And what services does our house, a mission of Madonna House, give? We offer a hot meal three days a week, hospitality and clothing, and on Saturday, a sandwich lunch. We serve women and children as well as men, and two elderly women meet here most days for a meal and a long visit.

The number of people coming to Marian Centre has been dropping over the last little while, and we have been praying and discerning about what God might be asking of us at this time.

Drugs are another big part of our neighborhood. There is a drug house across our alley that sees lots of activity including police visits. Almost on a daily basis, one can see people shooting up all around our house. Some of these people come to our soup kitchen high or “coming down.” It breaks our hearts to see these young lives so devastated.

One day, I was trying to extricate a young woman from the bathroom. She was sobbing about her kids being taken away from her due to her drug use. Her statement was quite astounding: “Of course I take drugs. How else can I cope?”

Homelessness haunts the city and touched us in still another way in the form of a tent camp two lots away. They had a wood stove and people were supplying them with wood.

They came here for lunch, and we visited with them. As the cold weather arrived, we wondered how they would manage. But they did, until one night the whole camp went up in flames. Thanks be to God, no one was hurt. It was a miracle, really.

The city’s solution to the problem was a warm-up bus that operated from 9p.m. to 8a.m. Then, as of this week, a temporary shelter has opened with 40 beds, and the warm-up bus is no more.

Marian Centre continues to be blessed by our wonderful volunteers and generous donors. One friend who raises pigs supplies us with meat regularly and another gives some of us free haircuts. That’s just two examples of many that could be given.

Our brothers in the house continue to attend a men’s group called, “Made for Greatness,” which is a great support to them. The women members, Kate O’Donnell and I, attend a woman’s faith sharing group at Little Flower Parish once a month.

Marian Centre is in a time of transition as we say goodbye to David Guzman, who has been transferred to Combermere, and hello to Paul Mitchell, who has been transferred here. We also have in our midst Luis Esquivel, a seminarian from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton. He is with us for a month.