Catholic Worker house to help community

A Catholic Worker house may be built in Charleston because of the efforts of the Newman Catholic Center.

The Catholic Worker house would provide shelter and help to people in need. There are many of these houses in America with seven in Illinois.

The Newman Catholic Center wishes to bring a Catholic Worker house to Charleston to provide help to those in the area who need it. Roy Lanham, the spokesperson for the Newman Catholic Center, knew Catholic Worker houses have been around for several decades.

For the past several years, Eastern students working with the Newman Catholic Center have gone to Catholic Worker houses over spring break. They have been to houses in New York and Kansas City. Doris Nordin, a Campus Minister for Newman, has gone to visit the houses.

“It’s a wonderful place to be a part of because being inside the house, it feels like you are a part of a big family that works together,” Nordin said.

The Catholic Worker house is more than a place that someone in need can find shelter and food; there are volunteers who live at the house who are on hand to help the people by conversing with them and making them feel good about themselves.

“Helping someone sometimes means more than giving a charitable donation of money or food, the people who are in need are helped sometimes by just talking to someone who makes them feel comfortable and welcomed,” Nordin said.

The closest Catholic Worker house to Charleston is the St. Jude Catholic Worker House in Champaign; another one is the Clare House of Hospitality in Bloomington near Illinois State University.

At the Clare House, founder Tina Sipula opened the house in December 1978 and has helped many people since then.

“We started out in 1978 as a shelter to women who had been victims of domestic violence and now give over 160 bags of food out a week, and provide soup for lunch and dinner everyday,” Sipula said.

Sipula has helped many people recover and get back on their feet after being there in their time of need. The people who have recovered will often thank her and bring donations for the house.

“One year I had three people call me on Christmas thanking me for helping save their lives,” Sipula said.

Doris said she wants students to become not only involved with Catholic Worker houses, but in other ways of helping the community as well. She said she sees it as a way for students to learn about others, and a way to overcome fears of talking to those who are different as well.

“You are talking with people who have struggled and you learn about the situations that people have gone through and it helps the student to not be afraid to help and talk to those in need,” Nordin said. ?

Steven Puschmann can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].