A student from St. James Catholic School in Falls Church helps to serve the Evening Meal at Christ House.

Beacon of Hope:

Christ House marks 50 years serving neighbors in need

Not long ago, Ronald Redman, 62, was unemployed, on the outs with family, and struggling with his years’ long battle with alcohol.

Through the Men’s Transitional Housing Program at Catholic Charities Christ House, he learned the importance of structure and daily routines. He added a long predawn prayer walk to his routine. His case manager helped him with budgeting and financial accountability, and they had long talks about dealing with anger and other challenges. Most importantly, he delved deep into his relationship with God.

Today, Redman has completed the program. He’s employed at a good job and moved to an apartment near family, where he continues his path of sobriety, routines, and maintaining a meaningful relationship with God.

“I didn’t know I had this much life in me. I never knew I could be doing the things I’m doing,” Redman says. “I owe so much of my life to Christ House.”

Catholic Charities founded Christ House in Old Town Alexandria in September 1973 to serve people seeking the most basic needs: shelter and a meal. Through five decades it has also provided emergency financial assistance, a food pantry, job training, clothing closet and more. Today it also offers 14 homeless men a residential workforce development program along with spiritual, educational, and other support.

“If, as Pope Francis says, the church is the field hospital,” says Catholic Charities President/CEO Stephen Carattini, “Christ House is the emergency room.”

This “emergency room” is possible because of generous parishioners and others who offer financial gifts, pray, or roll up their sleeves to volunteer.

“Christ House is a beacon of hope in Alexandria, a sign of Christ’s presence and love for men, women, and children in great need,” says Fr. Edward Hathaway, rector of the nearby Basilica of Saint Mary. “The outreach, involvement, and financial support from Basilica parishioners - and from those in surrounding parishes - has been a constant since its establishment 50 years ago.”

The Basilica’s signature annual Irish Hooley, hosted by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), supports Christ House programs. So does its Youth Apostolate Family Summer Program, when children and families pray, collect and pack meals and snacks for youngsters who are food insecure. The parish also gathers and delivers food packages after Thanksgiving Day Mass.

Another 40 diocesan parishes participate in providing the Evening Meal 365 days a year.

Catholic Charities Christ House has evolved but many things remain constant, says Carattini. “Today we remain a place of refuge, a place of respite where people can come,” he says. “They not only receive the food, shelter, and clothing they require, but the love they deserve."

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National Migration Week

The Church in the United States observes National Migration Week September 18 – 24. In the Diocese of Arlington, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services is hosting several events to mark the observance, including a Mass on World Day of Migrants and Refugees, at 11 a.m. on Sunday, September 24, at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington. The Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Burbidge.

Read Bishop Burbidge's statement about National Migration Week here.

How does the diocese welcome migrants? Watch this video to see:

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington | ccda.net
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