Once a year communities across the country conduct a Point in Time Homeless Count. This survey helps local governments and organizations understand the extent of homelessness, changing trends, and the measure of their success in making homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring.
Throughout the years, the number of homelessness continues to rise in the US. From 2018, there were 1,991 homeless individuals in emergency shelters, which increased to 16 percent in 2019 at 2,313. While in 2018, there were 1,341 individuals that were unsheltered, which increased to 8 percent in 2019 at 1,452. And while the sheer numbers can often seem overwhelming despite local efforts to find a solution, one Regnum Christi apostolate, MERCY, is going out into the streets and serving those affected in a personal way.
Jubilee of Mercy
At the heart of God, He offers mercy and love. MERCY is an apostolate launched by Regnum Christi members in the summer of 2013. Lead by Kevin Morris, the organization is in response to Pope Francis’ Call to Mercy. The Jubilee Year urged Catholics to go on a pilgrimage and to do works of charity and penance of sins.
MERCY offers this opportunity by organizing an event every month with the objective of providing an easy way for participants to perform an act of kindness or compassion. The only requirements are to show up and be an instrument of love to others. “The idea is to provide a regular, monthly opportunity for everyone to help those in need without needing to make a commitment,” said Horacio Gomez, one of the organization’s leaders.
One innovative MERCY initiative for those particularly limited with time is a solution called MERCY Bags. “In large cities like Dallas, it’s common to come across homeless individuals on your everyday commute,” said Gomez. “MERCY Bags, stuffed with items such as water, socks, toilet paper and other essentials provide an opportunity for anyone, anywhere to take part in acts of mercy.”
How many times do you drive and encounter a homeless individual? You want to give them something, but you don’t know what. MERCY Bags are designed to provide the homeless key essentials to cover immediate physical needs like water, soap, toilet paper, a pair of socks, food and prayer materials. The idea came from a parishioner in Dallas who was doing it on his own by putting together small zip-close bags to carry in his car. MERCY took this idea to scale it by launching an event where volunteers stuffed 200 bags to create a bigger impact from one individual to multiple passing them out when they encountered a person in need.
Called to Serve
As Pope Francis stated, “This is the time of mercy. It is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth!” And with this message, MERCY is doing exactly this with their fellow brothers and sisters who recognize the need.
The goal of MERCY is to change the world and people's lives through works of mercy. Visit their page to be inspired to go out and change the world through works of service and mercy! And join them on their next event by following their social media pages to continue the message as Jesus instructed, “Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:36.
MERCY bags are available for purchase at $5 each by contacting Luisa Gomez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Year of Mercy Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew
from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness
only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
"If you knew the gift of God!"
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by
forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its
Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be
clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those
in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought
after, loved, and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us
with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace
from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may
bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this of you, Lord Jesus, through the intercession
of Mary, Mother of Mercy; you who live and reign with the Father
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.