Homeless champion, Fr Peter McVerry, SJ, has told Transition Year pupils in County Tipperary that “When you serve the poor, help the suffering or those in need, God will find you.”
Speaking at a special gathering recently for Transition Year and
Fifth Year groups at Holycross Abbey in County Tipperary, Fr McVerry
shared his experiences as a campaigner for the homeless with the Fr
Peter McVerry Trust.
The day was organised by the Cashel and Emly Diocesan Mercy
Committee, and provided an opportunity for almost 1,000 young people
from throughout the Diocese to come together to share their faith and be
challenged by the Gospel message.
Fr McVerry told the students how the many homeless people he has met
over the years have changed his life. He told the story of a 12-year-old
boy whose alcoholic mother stabbed his 12-year-old sister in front of
him. This boy is so traumatised by the event that he now lives with
severe mental health issues in Peter McVerry Trust accommodation.
In spite of the hope the trust offers, Fr McVerry said that the trap
of addiction is not an easy one to escape.
He told the story of a young
girl who said to him just before she died, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if
you could run so fast your memories wouldn’t catch up?”
Fr McVerry went on to comment, “And that’s why so many homeless
people take drugs, they want to forget , they want to escape the
horrific memories of their past. Surely if there is a God then these
people must have a special place in His heart.”
Speaking about what God expects young people to do, Fr McVerry said,
“he wants us to reach out to those in need and suffering and then God
will come to find us, as any parent would find the one who saved their
child from drowning and in being found we will then know God exists. The
poor offer us the chance to become more like God and we are the hope of
the homeless and the needy.”