With summer in full swing, we open the doors at Su Casa countless times a day – not only for the twenty guests and workers who call Su Casa home, but for a host of community members who both give and receive.
Volunteers arrive as early as 7:00am to help prepare breakfast for our neighbors at Frieda’s Place or weed in the Pie Patch garden. Youth from the One Summer Chicago program soon follow to assist with the upkeep of our buildings and grounds while gaining both income and valuable employment experiences. As the afternoon continues, teachers from Chicago Hopes arrive to share summer reading with the children of Su Casa, as well as our young friends from a near-by shelter. And just in time for the dinner bell, we are often joined by former family guests, a handyman or two, and community professionals accepting our small gracias! for the pro-bono services they provide on a regular basis.
Ask any house manager – opening the door here can be a full-time job!
It is nearly one year since Su Casa made the critical decision to continue our mission, relying upon the radical generosity of supporters. We thank you for the very necessary contributions our supporters made in 2015 to keep our doors open. These enabled us to pay for winter utility bills, ongoing maintenance of our historic building, and an extensive and permanent asbestos remediation process to ensure the safety of our guests and neighbors into the future.
This summer, we reach out again to ensure that we can continue to invite our families, friends, and neighbors to hospitality, to healing, to home. Whether it is a single gift or a modest, recurring donation, the impact of your help will be felt immediately!
Please feel free to send to our address below, or to give online at www.sucasacw.org/donate.
In the meantime, we offer our prayers of gratitude for your open hearts. Know that the doors of Su Casa are always open to greet you!
Su Casa invites everyone to our community mass and potluck on Sunday, May 15th. Mass at 4pm, potluck immediately following. Fr. Cesaire Moussa from St. Joseph Parish will be celebrating with us. Please come, and bring a friend and some food to share!
Su Casa Catholic Worker Community has been active in Chicago’s south side Back of the Yards neighborhood for over 25 years, serving some of the city’s most vulnerable families and individuals including refugees, survivors of torture, and survivors of domestic violence. The community consists of ‘workers’ and ‘guests’ living cooperatively in the campus of a former Franciscan Friary with a shelter for families experiencing homelessness as well as a soup kitchen.
There is another building on Su Casa’s campus that’s been vacant for several years, but holds tremendous potential for rehabilitation as a community center, office building, and/or communal living space. The “Press Building,” was the original home of the Franciscan Herald, published by the Friars who formerly inhabited Su Casa’s grounds. Today the nearly 3,000 square foot building needs some repairs to plumbing, walls, bathrooms, and kitchen prior to being revitalized. However, Su Casa is seeking partner non-profit organization(s) to reimagine the future of the building and expand the mission of the Su Casa Community.
In responding to this Request For Proposals (RFP) individuals and organizations have the opportunity to expand their own operations into a large, historic building with a dozen office spaces, a conference room, 4 bathrooms, a kitchen, and substantial outdoor space. Su Casa is willing to consider alternative rent payments under a potential lease, including tenants’ desire to fund building improvements in lieu of rent payments.
For 25 years years, Su Casa Catholic Worker on the south side of Chicago has carried out the vision of Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker movement by providing shelter and community for Spanish-speaking families, offering hot meals and food to neighbors, and crying out for justice in a broken world.
With a complete turnover of leadership, Su Casa has recently begun a new chapter. Nine of the 11 new members of Su Casa’s governing board are current or former members of Catholic Worker communities. We possess a deep love of Su Casa, an first-hand knowledge of its work and life, and and a commitment to the values and vision of the Catholic Worker movement.
Community and ministry continue at Su Casa, workers and families share life together, and hot meals are prepared for our neighbors. But there is a need to expand the worker community– both for the practical reasons of carrying out the work and to continue forming a mutually supportive, intentional community. Su Casa seeks long-term community members who are ready to enter into the rich tradition of Su Casa and to forge the future of Su Casa’s identity and mission.
We invite prospective community members to “come and see!” Individuals committed to sheltering the homeless and feeding the hungry in the context of intentional community and solidarity with the marginalized are encouraged to contact Lori Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin dialogue.
During his speech to congress in September, Pope Francis spoke of Dorothy Day and her call to work with the poor for social justice. “The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.” Su Casa has embodied this spirit by working to alleviate homelessness and hunger for two and a half decades. Twenty-five years ago, Su Casa was born as a response to the painful reality of Central American refugees fleeing military conflict in their homelands. Over the following years, where a church had once stood, the Cardinal Bernardin Garden would be cultivated by and for the community. In what had once been a distribution center for the Franciscan Herald press, meals began to be served to the people of Back of the Yards. And in the old friary, a ministry to house Spanish speakers would become the center of life for a Catholic Worker community.
Many challenges have arisen in Su Casa’s history. Each time these problems have appeared, however, the Spirit that guides Su Casa has shown the way. Recently, the Spirit guided the board of Su Casa as it confronted a new financial challenge. Many options were considered, including the possibility that Su Casa’s mission might have reached its end. After prayerful consideration, this board passed on its wisdom and experience to another team of those committed to carrying on the vision of a place dedicated to performing works of mercy and justice. When the new leadership met for the first time in August, we broke bread together with the guests of Su Casa and then joined them for a meeting where all of us shared what this place means to them. Many heads nodded with each response as we shared that our vision and our understanding of Su Casa are based in trust, community, service, warmth, healing, personal interaction, home, making a difference, a sense of family, and a culture of helping each other.
Because we believe in Su Casa, we humbly request your support. The situation is difficult. Finances are scarce and needs are as great as ever. Four families – mothers with their children – currently live here as guests. As winter nears, paying the gas and electric bills for our friary as well as the separate soup kitchen become necessary steps for survival. Please consider a donation or a pledge to Su Casa so that its mission will continue on for another 25 years. In the wake of a recent crisis, we are asking for immediate stretch donations from all those who love Su Casa, but it will be the small, consistent, monthly donations that will really enable Su Casa to thrive for years to come. Mail a check today to Su Casa, 5045 S Laflin St, Chicago, IL 60609, or donate on-line at www.sucasacw.org/donate/. If you can, set up a recurring donation.
Thanks to the blessings that are bestowed upon Su Casa through our relationships with Trader Joe’s, supporting parishes and organizations, and many generous individual donors, we plan to continue to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless in our midst. Your support makes these works of mercy and justice possible. We hope you will share your prayers and your resources with Su Casa to make sure this special place can continue to provide a space that welcomes those on the margins into a warm, inviting space. Your support will create a home, heal a broken soul, forge a community, and help us continue to usher in a new world.