By Sean Ryan - 05 October, 2016
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.”