Why Do You Call Me Good?

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Screen shot 2016-01-14 at 10.50.48 AMBy Marie Dukart

Are we good? A common phrase I hear out on the streets is “I’m a good person,” or “I don’t hurt anyone by my choices.” What kills me is that’s my inner monologue as well.

It doesn’t help that people come up to me and other missionaries and tell us: “You are doing such good work.” “I could never do what you guys do.” And even, “thank you for your sacrifice.” And in a way those people are right. Serving the poor is good work. Most people won’t be a Christ in the City missionary and “give up” a year (or two) of their lives.

But the question I keep coming back to: does this work make me good? No. God created me good, but how do I cooperate with his goodness?

Frankly, I became a missionary with mixed motives, and when I came I thought I was a decent Catholic/Christian. But, boy, was I wrong. “Doing” good things doesn’t make anyone good. As Scripture says, “ Man sees the appearance and God sees the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

My heart was and is proud and selfish, and I do things because I want to look good, not because I actually want to be good. Being good means letting go of your own ideas about life, letting God take the reins, and asking Him to show me how self-centered my intentions are.

Just this past week I was running alone on Cherry Creek trail and I saw a man lying unconscious alongside the running path. He appeared to be homeless and I don’t ever interact with people when I’m running by myself. I ran right past him; then I stopped. I can’t explain the interior conflict in my heart and mind. Fear and self-preservation vs. an overwhelming sense that I had to help: the good Samaritan story happening in my own life.

I struggled to stay calm as he was turning blue, his eyes half-open, and his gasping breath freaking me out that he was going to die right then and there. It wasn’t because I was a good person that I called the ambulance and stayed by him until the paramedics came. No, I stayed because the Holy Spirit compelled me to take a risk and, perhaps, save a life.

“Why do you call me good?” You call Christ in the City missionaries good because every once while in a while we let the Holy Spirit take the reins.

Marie Dukart is a second-year missionary and an alumnus of the University of Mary in North Dakota. She’s passionate about Beauty, Truth and Goodness and naps..

All Things to All People

[wr_heading el_title=”heading” tag=”h1″ text_align=”inherit” heading_margin_top=”5″ heading_margin_bottom=”25″ font=”inherit” enable_underline=”yes” border_bottom_style=”solid” appearing_animation=”0″ disabled_el=”no” ]All Things to All People[/wr_heading]
Screen shot 2016-01-14 at 10.56.23 AMBy Mary Sullivan

When I signed up to be a Christ in the City missionary, I didn’t quite understand the scope of what I was signing up for. I knew I would be encountering the poor and building friendships with them, but I didn’t know just how deeply I would be diving into the lives of our friends on the street.

Recently I have been reflecting a lot on the words of St. Paul, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Cor 9:22-23)

In the past month, I have had to be many things. In my community I have been a chef, cooking meals for 20+ people. I have been a student, studying and learning about my faith so that I can better live it out. I have been a host for a friend visiting from home, sharing my life and mission here with her. I have been a sister to the women in my community, walking with them through the challenges and joys of our hectic life.

With my friends on the street, I have been a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold for a dear friend who always has lots of hugs to spare during a memorial service for her husband. He struggled with alcoholism and passed away while sleeping outside on Christmas night.

I have been a taxi driver for a friend with schizophrenia, driving him all over the city of Denver to help him get some things taken care of so that he could get to his surgery on time. All the while he was freaking out in the back seat because he was stressed out and he didn’t trust that we were actually going to be able to help him.

I have been a mother/sister/friend to a woman that I hardly know, accompanying her through the labor and delivery of her sweet baby girl. She didn’t really have any other family to be there, so a few of us missionaries decided to be there to support her and love her through it.

Availability is one of the core virtues of a CIC missionary. In the past few weeks, I have learned exactly what it means to live it out both in community and on the streets. Much like St. Paul, I had to be ready and willing to be all these things to all of these people for the sake of the Gospel.

It is my hope that the Lord will use these things for the salvation of others.

Mary Sullivan is a recent graduate of Wright State University with a degree in chemistry. She loves deep conversations, good movies, and Cincinnati chili.

Only In Heaven

Only in Heaven

By Michael P. McCrory

In windswept Denver – all who pass
Seek shelter from the stormy blast
While in an alley – out of sight
A homeless man will spend the night

In lying there he suffers on
In mind and heart and will
And prays,somehow that things may change
And justice have it’s fill

He knows deep down- this is so wrong
That he should live this way
Without a home, a friend or hope
To see him through each day

The future for such lonely ones
Must seem so bleak and empty
Denied the bare necessities
In our land of plenty

But hark, there’s hope — good souls who wish
To show a little pity
They’re young and full of love and joy
They are Christ in the city

Their simple task to be a friend
To everyone they meet
In pairs of two you’ll see them
In downtown Denver streets

They’re there each day to chat with them
To prove they really care
To listen to their stories
And maybe say a prayer

It may not sound so very much
But it means a lot to them
To have such lovely people
Treat them like a friend


But the ones who ‘pay the piper’
– The engine in the train –
Are all the generous donors
Who time and time again

Support these brave young people
With the backing that they need
Without such rich investment
They never could succeed

And for their generosity
The return is great we’re told

“ For every single cent ” God says
“ I’ll repay one hundred fold
Yes! all you do for others
Out of love for me
Will then go on
Through all eternity
For everything you’ve ever had
You owe it all to me
So I can never be outdone
In generosity
And now
You are
Not only
my friend
You and I are One
Only in Heaven
Will you know
The good that you have done. “

Michael Patrick McCrory is from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He currently lives in Newport Beach, CA, with his wife of 48 years. He wrote this poem after visiting Christ in the City. This poem is his thank you to the missionaries and their donors for loving the poor as they do.

The Greatest Gift We Can Give

Screen shot 2016-01-14 at 10.56.23 AMBy Mary Sullivan

“So…what is it that you do exactly?”

My family, friends, strangers and the men and women experiencing homelessness ask me this question often. It’s a valid question.

I decided to spend a year of my life living in Denver as a missionary after graduating college instead of getting a job and using my degree.

So, why did I choose this life? What do I do every day? My street team and I go out to the streets everyday and talk to homeless people. We go with nothing more than a backpack with some snacks, socks, gloves, rosaries, and other various things to give to our friends who are hungry and cold. We go knowing we can’t solve all their problems.

We go to become friends with them, to get to know them, to pray with them, to be a shoulder to cry on or an ear to hear their good news. We go to be a consistent, encouraging presence in the lives of people who lack this. We go to accompany people.

The idea of accompaniment is crucial in the life of a Christ in the City missionary. It’s what we came to do. It’s what we offer our friends on the street.

In a world that measures success by what we do and how much we accomplish, accompaniment may seem trivial. It certainly did to me at first. These people are hungry and cold and tired and homeless. What am I doing for them by just going around and talking to them?

A quote by one of the patrons of Christ in the City may help to shed some light on this question: “Material poverty you can always satisfy with material. The unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for, the forgotten, the lonely – this is much greater poverty,” said Mother Teresa.

Yes, our friends on the street are hungry and cold, but these are not the biggest problems they face. Often times, these problems are nothing more than symptoms of the brokenness in their lives. There are a number of shelters and agencies out there employing caseworkers to help people with their material needs.

We go out to address the loneliness. By accompanying people, by walking with them through whatever is going on in their lives, we can bring them hope and show them love. We can’t solve everyone’s problems, but we can always be there for them.

Recently, we have been walking with a friend through yet another relapse into alcoholism. He is facing eviction, which means he might end up back on the streets. I frantically went through all of the options and asked a friend what we’re going to do.

“We will continue accompanying him,” he said. It’s all we can do for him. In fact, it’s all we can do for any of our friends.

Mary Sullivan is a recent graduate of Wright State University with a degree in chemistry. She loves deep conversations, good movies, and Cincinnati chili.

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

By Blake Brouillette

Comfort. No, I’m not talking about your favorite recliner or a perfect fall Saturday. I’m talking about the thing that prevents you from being the best version of yourself, from taking risks. I’m talking about what prevents you from achieving your dreams, goals and improving your quality of life.

How could a word that carries so many warm and fuzzy feelings be so harmful? But life isn’t about feelings. I’ve realized this many times during the past few months as a Christ in the City missionary in Denver.

Comfort sneaks up on us. It’s enjoyable and satisfies us with our current situations in life. It isn’t risky, and is a cushion to our problems and obstacles. We know what to expect with life on a daily basis, and we get into a routine where we feel productive and fulfilled.

In my first 22 years of life, I had built up an incredibly comfortable life and community in Nebraska. Realistically I had no reason to leave. I had job offers, a strong support group, friends, family, a life that I had worked hard to build up and a state I love filled with people I love even more. Little did I know, God placed all this comfort in my life with the next step in mind.

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness,” said Pope Benedict XVI.

Before Christ in the City, I never actually thought about what this meant. A life of comfort will never completely fulfill us. I thought I understood this.

What I was completely blowing off was my understanding of what it would take to progress to greatness. I didn’t realize many of the decisions I was making in life were based on comfort. Comfort subtly became my motivation.

We like to be able to control and predict the outcome of our choices. The less risky and safe decisions are appealing. I’m not talking about life and death situations here, I’m talking about the things we face daily and are easy to take the comfortable way out. Perhaps it’s inviting a new friend to come hang out, saying hi to a stranger on an elevator, smiling at someone as you cross paths, going out of your way to help someone who is struggling, talking to a homeless person on the street, confronting someone who needs help or has been bothering you, going the extra mile or taking on a project that will challenge you – these are just a few of the examples we encounter that require a decision from us.

Magnanimity: the beast of a word that is going to be the answer to the issue of comfort. Get familiar with this word, love this word and let this word guide your decisions on a daily basis. Magnanimity is one of the core values at Christ in the City and a core value I have adopted for my life. It is the virtue of seeking excellence in all things, challenging ourselves to do things when we don’t know if we can, taking that extra step in life and making the decision to go above and beyond.

Living by this virtue is not easy. However through the challenges and difficulties you find a full life knowing you gave everything you had and discovered who you are.

It’s time we started living magnanimously.

Begin small and progress one step at a time. We all have those things that we place in the “someday” category, and that someday is now. Chase your dreams, take risks, set your goals high, and make the decision to improve your life. With every failure and uncomfortable situation, you are one step closer to the best version of yourself.