Personal Introduction

Welcome! My name is John Roselle, SJ, and I took lifelong ("perpetual") vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a Jesuit on August 13th, 2011 after a two-year novitiate. I am now a Jesuit Scholastic for the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus. I will study philosophy and theology for the next three years at Loyola University in Chicago. At the same time, I will do part-time ministry in some capacity with the poor. After that, I will likely teach for three years before finishing three more years of theology. Then, God willing, I will be ordained a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest! It's a long road, but a blessed, fun, and enriching one. This blog exists as a resource for friends, family, and others who are interested in my progress through the Jesuit process of formation. Every day is its own adventure, and I am happy to have you along with me to share in this. This blog contains my own personal thoughts and should not be taken to speak for the entire Society of Jesus. Feel free to contact me. God bless you!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekends for the Homeless

I am an admitted "snow-day glutton." When I was a teacher at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, even if we had 3 snow days in a row, I would want a fourth. There is a certain excitement and refreshment to snow, isn't there?

However, now that I am working with the homeless population of St. Paul, snow takes on a different, harder meaning. I have been blessed to become good friends with a few people who are "experiencing homelessness" either as a temporary or near-permanent state of life. Either way, they often have to stand and walk around in the harsh elements of this city. On weekends, the Listening House (affectionately called "the living room of the homeless in downtown St. Paul") where I work is closed. Many are reduced to shuffling around the "Skyway" system, always moving so as not to be penalized for loitering. Not much of a weekend, huh?

Just yesterday before the snow came, I had three separate conversations outside with homeless men before and after I ate at the local Dorothy Day soup kitchen. These three are joys to talk with and we had some laughs but also talked through some rough realities in their lives. Although I spent some quality time with them, I couldn't help but notice that I was eager to get back indoors. Being able to hop in my car and drive home is a luxury that they don't have, perhaps will not have.

Another man I am friends with came up to me before I left. I commented about how his eyes looked, and he said that he couldn't get his psychiatric medication that helps him sleep. He was told he would have to wait until Monday. He was convinced that he wouldn't be able to sleep at all this weekend. I told him that I would pray for him. He is a strong Christian, and I reminded him that Jesus spent 40 days in the desert without food and water and that He would be suffering right along with him this weekend without sleep. He told me that those were "comforting words" and that it was like God just put them into me and they came out.

Needless to say, I woke up a little more grateful this morning as I curled up in my bed and the snow came down outside my window. My friends downtown had already been up since 5 in the morning and thrust into this constant snow. I'll be praying for them.

1 comment:

  1. I read this one quite a while ago, but I didn't want to mess up your nice reflection with any of my "issues"....Ha ha ha! Cause you'll see I've *always* got issues. LOL But the one thing that stayed in the back of my head while I was reading this is something that is always in the back of my head 24/7, and that is trying to grasp the concept of suffering and my role in alleviating it. I understand what suffering is, its cause, and its purpose, but I have a really hard time with being as blessed as I am when there are so many others out there - like the homeless - who still struggle just to survive. I *do* know that it would be downright sinful for me to tell God, "You didn't put me in the right place. You are wrong, and I should really be in Africa somewhere feeding starving children." I know that I am where God wants me to be and that He's got a reason for putting me here. But I also can't help feeling this huge sense of almost "survivor's guilt" that I am here in the lap of luxury of the entire world eating, drinking, Facebooking while someone else is freezing to death under a bridge somewhere. I know there is an answer to this because Fr. Steve, for instance, spent all kinds of time in Haiti and other places seeing suffering I'm sure that not even I can imagine, and he seems to be at peace with where he is now and not trying desperately to get back there. I have even talked with him and he has tried to explain this to me, but I have a very thick head and don't grasp the obvious very well. Can you maybe tell me a little more about your thoughts and feelings with regard to your role in working with the homeless? Am I just taking some sort of "compassionate attachment" to a sinful level by refusing to accept the suffering that God has intended for the sanctification of another's soul? Thanks, John.