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A Letter From Fr. John Hardin

frjohn_garden.jpgWhen I see the thousands of homeless and working poor sharing a meal each day, the parents and their children receiving care in our medical clinic, and the folks gaining computer skills in our Learning Center, I can’t help but feel that a truly great thing is happening here in the Tenderloin.

But then I reflect on a smile or a story shared by one our guests and I am reminded that true greatness is found in those stretching themselves to seek help.

Great courage and strength of character are required of those who struggle to overcome the isolation and the frustrations of homelessness. Regardless of what obstacles they face, our guests must first and foremost rediscover their own dignity and worth. Sometimes we see it when they can’t, and we nurture it back to life despite the hunger, the failure or the sickness. Sometimes they help us recognize their potential when it’s difficult for us to see.

Our founding vision and core beliefs are rooted in our commitment to meet the poor where they are. St. Anthony’s exists because Fr. Alfred Boedekker, our founder, spent time listening to the World War II vets who were “down on their luck.” Today our elaborate network of social service programs answers the need of our homeless neighbors primarily because we’re willing to sit at the table with them and listen to their stories.

We share with you these stories because more than all the statistical reports, outcome analyses or auditors’ statements, they let you know how your generosity is transforming lives. If we listen closely to these accounts, we hear how transformation leads to gratitude and gratitude leads to a desire to give back. In this way our guests who benefit from our services aren’t that different from our donors. I can’t count the times that generous donors have explained their gift as an expression of gratitude for graces received in their own lives—from the simple thanks to St. Anthony for a lost item found to the deep gratitude for an experience or a person who’s changed their life.

The lives of our guests speak to me of courage, persistence and gratitude. Their stories ignite that desire within each of us to be transformed.

With gratitude,
Fr. John Hardin, OFM

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