By Fr. Brian Kennedy, C.S.C.
Once during my first week at Andre House, I was walking through the parking lot when a guest gave me an astonished look and said that he “ain’t never seen a priest in the wild before!” I was struck by the comment, and reminded of the encouragement that Pope Francis has repeatedly given to priests: to “get out of the sacristies and into the streets,” and to go “to the existential margins” of society to share the gospel with those who are most forgotten and in need. Indeed, we are all called to follow Jesus the High Priest who went “into the wild” of our world to seek and to save us.
Yet we are also all tempted to stay in our comfort zone (especially if it’s air-conditioned), to stick with what we already know, and to only associate with our friends or allies. Our Lord once challenged his disciples: “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?” God is always calling us out of our little bubbles, and into relationships of love in community.
Andre House exists to “Make God known, loved and served.” We walk in the footsteps of countless saints of mercy – like Peter Claver, a true “priest in the wild,” who would set out in his little boat to meet the horrific slave ships of Cartagena, bringing food and medicine and hope for the oppressed onboard. “We must speak to them with our hands before we try to speak to them with our lips,” he would say. In the “The Joy of the Gospel” the Pope wrote that “an evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first, and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast.” May Andre House always be such a community. And may our merciful God bless each one of you, and all our guests.
Published originally in André House’s Open Door newsletter.