Benedictine Sisters, Catholic Community Services formalize partnership
The Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel have formally transferred management of its shelter, farmworker housing and food bank to Catholic Community Services.
A celebration was held Dec. 6 and included a tour of the facilities as well as a transfer ceremony during afternoon vespers in the Queen of Angels Monastery chapel, followed by a reception and dinner at the monastery's dining hall.
Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette Valley and Central Coast now sustains St. Joseph Shelter, Mission Benedict and Casa Adele, which had previously been administered under a management agreement between the two organizations. The Benedictine Sisters are still partners with these ministries.
At the transfer ceremony, in the presence of community partners and long-time supporters, the Benedictine Sisters shared the mission of St. Joseph Shelter. Then, pastoral administrator Sister Jane Hibbard, St. Mary Parish pastor Father Philip Waibel and Mount Angel Abbey Prior Vincent Trujillo passed a mission candle to CCS and CCS Foundation board members Scott Wiegal, Maria Palacio and Lynda Harrington.
"We consider it a solemn responsibility, an honor and a joy to serve this community with you, with your blessing, guidance and prayers that have sustained these ministries for nearly 30 years," said Lynda Harrington, president of the CCS Foundation Board, in a press release.
The Benedictine Sisters established St. Joseph Shelter in 1988. The shelter is a ministry of hospitality in response to the Gospel message of caring for those in need and honoring St. Benedict's instruction to welcome all as Christ, a press release stated. The release goes on to say the shelter and its companion programs, Mission Benedict and Casa Adele, witness to the dignity of each person by providing meals, housing, clothing, advocacy, referrals, emergency assistance and a supportive community.
Thirty years later, the Benedictine Sisters realized they could no longer sustain this ministry on their own. After exhaustive financial exploration, community research and a year of management partnership, the sisters asked CCS to assume responsibility for the shelter beginning in July 2017.
"Our deepest desire is for the ministry to continue," Hibbard said in the release. "There is no better partner than CCS. Their mission flows out of our Benedictine ideals…..to welcome all! We will continue to be present with our founding commitment."
St. Joseph Shelter is the only shelter serving homeless families in the Mid-Willamette Valley outside of Salem. The demand for housing at the shelter continues to increase due to insufficient inventory of affordable housing, the escalating home rental market, barriers to employment for families in crisis and the increasing cost of living in the Pacific Northwest.
"CCS operates with fidelity to the principles of Catholic social teaching, which call us to serve our neighbors who are the poorest and most vulnerable," said CCS Executive Director Jim Seymour in the release. "We are honored to sustain this ministry in partnership with the Benedictine Sisters. With their continued stewardship, and with the help of community members who share their compassion for families facing adversity, we can walk alongside these families on a path toward hope and, ultimately, self-sufficiency."