- The initiative is part of the Gubbio Project and started by Father Louis Vitale and community activist Shelly Roder.
- The church lets people sleep on the pews and provides them with blankets as well.
- Since the project started, no guest has been turned away or kicked out when other worshipers came into the church.
A church is not one to shoo the homeless who are sleeping outside its walls. But rare is the house of worship who will actually let people seek comfort inside the church for an overnight stay.
St. Boniface Church in San Francisco became the exception when it opened its doors for the homeless and let them spend the night indoors.
The initiative started more than 15 years ago as part of the church’s The Gubbio Project in 2004.
It was Father Louis Vitale and community activist Shelly Roder who spearheaded the effort.
The project is named after an Italian town where St. Francis was said to have negotiated a peace agreement between a hungry wolf and a frightened townsfolk.
Not only did St. Boniface Church let the people sleep in, they also let them sleep on the pews plus blankets are provided for them to use.
The charitable act draws in hundreds of people daily and the church accommodates them, giving out as much blankets as they could.
The Gubbio Project has its own website. According to it, an average of 225 unhoused people seek rest and safety each weekday, starting at 6 am. St. Boniface Church does not question guests who walk in – there aren’t even any forms or sheets to sign.
The church turns away no one and all people who seek shelter are treated with dignity and respect.
As the project progressed, St. Boniface Church also provided socks, hygiene kits, foot care, massage service, and chaplaincy services.
The church allocated 2/3 of their sanctuary to the Gubbio Project. The remaining 1/3 is used for daily masses at 12:15 pm.
With this endeavor, St. Boniface Church sends a powerful message to the homeless – that they are part of the community and wouldn’t be kicked out when other worshippers come in to church.
Watch this video to know more about the Gubbio Project.
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