If you are a longtime reader of these pages you know that we at St. Michael (the I presently serve) have been providing a twice a month meal for the Community here in Southbridge. I am always interested what others have been doing along these lines and so recently I friended Fr. Nathan Monk on Facebook. Fr. Nathan is a priest in Pensacola, Florida and his church provides meals for the poor of his community.
Fr. Nathan can usually be seen holding a sign the sign in the picture I have included on this post. He stands on the side of the road to collect funds to help in the ministry to the poor. Recently the City Council of Pensacola has made this type of activity, panhandling, illegal. There has been much going back and forth between the people and the City Council about all of this and it has risen to a level of debate that some on the Council do not like.
In the video below you will see Fr. Nathan come before the City Council to address the issue. It seems from what I can gather from the video that at the previous meeting some people were removed from the Council chambers by the police and in this video you can see the Police Chief, he is the one with the four stars on this shoulders, come to try and remove this priest before he is finished speaking. Actually three police officers come to try and remove him.
Several years ago a priest from of mine was removed from a court room where he had gone to lend support for a parishioner who has having some legal problems and the judge objected to his wearing of his collar in the Court Room. This past summer the Town Council here in Southbridge tried to restrict the citizens right to speak at Town Council meetings. Is there any wonder people are occupying places all over the country? The clergy, of all faith groups, need to be the voice of those who have no voice in the community and fight for what is right. I believe it is what the Gospel is all about!
My hat is off to Fr. Nathan and his work with the poor of his community. He is trying to be the voice of the voiceless and he needs our support.