By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Project HOME serves homeless people in Philadelphia year round and, on Christmas, it offers them a Catholic mass, right at the main shelter in Fairmount, drawing people from all walks of life.
Sister Mary Trainor opened the service, saying there was no better place to celebrate the holiday:
“It’s all about hospitality and our desire to give a home to one another as we gave a home to Jesus in our world.”
There may, indeed, be no more appropriate way to celebrate a birth that took place in a stable — because there was no room indoors — than at Project HOME, which devotes itself to finding a place for everyone.
That’s why Jamillah was at mass. Though, religiously, she doesn’t observe Christmas, the spirit of the season, she says, resonates with her:
“It brings togetherness, happiness; miracles happen. Six months ago, I was homeless. I didn’t have a job, I had nowhere to stay, now I have my own two bedroom apartment and now I’m working here at Project HOME.”
The mass is a great equalizer, drawing Project HOME residents and employees and volunteers. Natasha has been coming since she was a little girl:
“And it feels really wonderful to be part of the community of everyone gathering here.”
Father Dan Joyce officiated:
“It’s good to be with others on the journey on this Christmas day and know that we stand together with a call for love and a call for unity,” he said.
Project HOME co-founder Joan McKinnon believes they see the link between Christmas — with its story of humble origins and the group’s mission:
“No matter the circumstances, everybody has dignity,” she explains.
For Michael, a resident, the link was personal:
“To me, Christmas means family, it means friends, and that’s exactly what Project HOME has provided for me is a family, and I’m very grateful and I wish everyone a happy Christmas.”