EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mark and Louise Zwick of Casa Juan Diego
COL: How are the spiritual needs of your clients [guests] met?
Zwicks: We do not use the word clients, but rather people or for those who stay in our Houses of Hospitality, "guests," as St. Benedict recommended. We have Mass each Wednesday evening for our guests with opportunity for confession. We take guests who would like to go to Mass at a parish on Sunday. Not all of our guests are Catholic.
COL: Does the CJD organize community events?
Zwicks: We do not have galas or that type of events. We have many events each day with people coming to visit and make donations, and many people ringing the doorbell to ask for help.
The Catholic community sends their young people to us for formation from various parish programs. Youth or confirmation groups or Catholic high school students often have workdays when they help to organize donations and give other practical help.
COL: Prayer must certainly be a major part of your work. Do you have any favorite prayers or stories about the power of prayer that you would like to share with us?
Zwicks: The Catholic Workers pray Morning Prayer from the Divine Office each day. With our guests we pray the prayer for the canonization of Dorothy Day which is found on a Holy Card with her picture. We are now publishing stories in our newspaper, the Houston Catholic Worker, from readers whose prayers were answered through the intercession of Dorothy Day. They know that her cause has been started in Rome. We try to follow St. Augustine's maxim, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you."
COL: Can you share a fun or amusing story related to CJD?
Zwicks: Our lives are filled with stories. Some are tragic, some are joyful, and some are exasperating. Here is one story:
We have been known to give the shirt off our very backs. One day an old friend came to give us his change of address and a $500 check. Mark put the check in his shirt pocket, as well as the change of address. On his way out of Casa Juan Diego he encountered a young man from the United States who said he was hungry. Being in a hurry to pick up another person who was waiting, Mark quickly made some sandwiches and wrapped them. Next the visitor said he needed some clothes. He did smell bad and his clothes were dirty. Mark simply took off his shirt and gave it to him (He had a white t-shirt on underneath). After Mark went to the clothing room to find another shirt, it struck him-the check was in the pocket of the shirt he had just given the young man! He lost no time looking up and down the streets of the neighborhood for the man in his shirt. But he couldn't find him! Finally, it occurred to him that the man might have gone to a local fast food restaurant to have a coke with his sandwiches. The manager there said that a young man fitting the description had just left. Mark dashed between cars at the corner of Washington and Shepherd, caught up with him, and offered him the shirt he had just selected from the clothing room, "Could I ask you to exchange that shirt for this beautiful shirt so that I could have mine back?" As he received his shirt, Mark was relieved to find the check still in the pocket. When someone brings a check to donate, Mark's shirt pocket continues to be our best temporary filing system before going to the bank.
COL: What are your specific, immediate needs? What can people do to be of help in your work?
Zwicks: The most helpful contribution would be to sponsor a sick or injured individual for a month or several months. For this purpose checks can be made out to Casa Juan Diego, marked on the bottom for the sick and injured, and mailed to Casa Juan Diego, P. O. Box 70113, Houston, TX 77270.
There are [also] many practical things that we can use that would be helpful if people live in the Houston area, such as brown rice, pinto beans, fresh fruit, coffee, sugar, toilet tissue, laundry soap powder, dishwashing liquid, deodorant, baby wipes, adult diapers, wheel chairs. Sometimes these items are expensive to ship from a distance, but some may be purchased online and shipped.
COL: How can people "follow" you?
Zwicks: We have a web site at cjd.org. We are glad to mail our newspaper to anyone who requests it. The Houston Catholic Worker can be requested through our web site or by writing to P. O. Box 70113, Houston, TX 77270. To drop off donations in Houston, the address is 4818 Rose, Houston, TX 77007.
Your readers may be interested in the two books that we have two published by Paulist Press:
1) The Catholic Worker Movement: Intellectual and Spiritual Origins
2) Mercy Without Borders: The Catholic Worker and Immigration Mercy Without Borders is filled with stories from Casa Juan Diego.
Both are by Mark and Louise Zwick.
Thank you, Mark and Louise for your time and may God bless you and all the work you do in His name.
EDITOR'S NOTE: To our readers, if you would like to send a donation to the casa Juan Diego, please send your gifts to: Casa Juan Diego, P. O. Box 70113, Houston, TX 77270 and donations of physical items to 4818 Rose, Houston, TX 77007.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Casa Juan Diego, Zwick, humanitarian, need, help, poor, guests
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