A year of service to neighbors in need

Consider how to spread the Good News of Jesus. How important it is to give personal testimony when asked about the reason for your joy, your sense of purpose, your desire to give. But before someone would ask, they would need to see it in action. Many people never darken the doorway of a church. They didn’t in the day of Christ, either. Jesus found people in tax collectors’ homes, up in a sycamore tree. He ate with sinners. He searched for them where lost sheep tend to gather.

In Over-the-Rhine, we see the Good News in action every day – a stone’s throw from our own Franciscan Motherhouse. It’s happening at St. Anthony Center, developed when the needs of a neighborhood converged with the need to give new life to an old building.

How to re-purpose buildings has become a great industry in many cities. Perseverance is required to protect the historical nature of the edifice, while making it practical for its present use. Creativity, courage and compassion combined in the creation of St. Anthony Center. It happened because the warehouses and some of the offices of Franciscan Media were no longer needed after a time of downsizing.

Community activist Tom Klinedinst Jr. knew the situation. He approached then–Vicar Frank Jasper about using the space to house a number of nonprofits dedicated to serving the poor and homeless. With a lot of difficult conversations, a movement was born! After months of zoning discussions, countless revisions of usage plans and more, St. Anthony Center was dedicated a year ago on Dec. 12, 2017. Sadly, Tom did not live to see his vision brought to life.

The statistics in the photo below measure the progress of the center by the number of those who have been helped, and the number of those who have helped them. They remind us that, following Jesus’ own evangelization pattern, we meet people in their need at “soft” entry points. “Soft” entry points abound at St. Anthony Center, such as providing an inviting meal, offering personal care from head to toe, teaching self-sufficiency though skills like jewelry-making, showing families how to cook, empowering many and helping to restore their dignity.

“Soft” entries such as these are the way most people first experience the compassion of Christ through His joyful followers. The first witness is to live like Jesus because of what Jesus has done for us. When I was naked, you clothed Me. When I was hungry, you gave Me something to eat. Through the ministries happening in this center, you can privately hear Christ tell you these five words: You did it to Me.

St. Anthony Center, 1615 Republic St., Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, 513-549-0542  https://saintanthonycentercincinnati.org/

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