I believe the church, the actual structure, is sacred and holy. I believe this because of what I was taught growing up. Hearing and learning about my faith, and believing it, naturally led me to believe in the strength of the church; and has now led me to my job at The Gubbio Project and wholeheartedly believe in our mission. Since being at The Gubbio Project I have seen that our guests also believe our church is sacred and holy; but they believe it for different reasons.
The other day I was making my round around the church to make sure everything was running smoothly. I finished outside in front of the church. As I was walking back inside a man stopped me and thanked me. He thanked me for being here. I started talking to him and he told me about himself. He told me that since he has been in San Francisco, he feels the safest in our church. He explained that growing up in areas suffering from the injustice of poverty, it is hard to find a place that gives a peaceful and positive vibe. He said “even when I tried to hang around people who were positive, addiction and crime found its way through.” I responded by saying “that’s what the church is here for, to help you get some rest from all of that”. When I said that, I was solely and unfortunately just talking about St. Boniface Church. My favorite part of our conversation was when he explained when he feels the most peace here. He said “I like sitting on the steps here. Seeing how people look at the church as they walk by just proves how sacred this place is”. I sat with him for a minute to see what he was talking about. He was referring to the countless number of pedestrians and cars passing by, making the sign of the cross on themselves as they passed. It was amazing sitting there with him. All the people that passed by and stopped to say a quick prayer or just made the sign of the cross as they passed reminded me of when I was a child. My parents taught me to do the same; to acknowledge the church and make the sign of the cross every time we passed by one. But in this moment it was different. It felt good to me and our guest because to us they were acknowledging the place that lets people in and gives them rest and basic supplies. It kind of felt like our own special version of cheerleaders and fans.
Another guest I see every day has a little tradition he does before he leaves for the day. He walks around to all the statues to check for money. Every now and then he finds a good handful of change. One day, as we were beginning to close up, I saw him making his round to all the statues; I saw as he would find some change at a statue here and there. I heard him thanking each statue. He then came up to me and said- “I found almost a dollar. The church knew I needed it bad today.” The church was proving itself to him; not a priest, not the bible, the actual structure is what makes his faith grow every day.
We see this all the time. People who aren't Catholic, who didn't grow up religious, who don’t care about religion, ask me how to properly put on holy water, ask me the words to prayers. All because the church is there for them.
Our guests have grown to respect our church. I hear people say all the time: “man, I don’t care who you are and what you do, but don’t do that in here.” This church is performing miracles every day and they feel it. The church is at the beginning of their faith; it is extraordinary. At St. Boniface Church I am honored to consider myself Roman Catholic.