Faith in Action: Luke Ebener & the Catholic Worker House
“Food for the body is not enough, there must be food for the soul.” – Dorothy Day
In addition to serving as St. Paul’s Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, Luke Ebener has been volunteering at the Davenport Catholic Worker House once a month for almost 7 years. Luke explains the source of his commitment, “It seems like every time I do any sort of work with the poor, they teach me something important about life, faith, gratitude, and Jesus.”
When he first said yes to an invitation from a friend, who had learned about the new Catholic Worker House in the Catholic Messenger, Luke didn’t realize how many new friends he would make through his time of volunteering. He shares, “The Catholic Worker House is all about hospitality, community, faith, and relationships. When we go down there to cook and share a meal with the residents, our real mission is creating friendships and relationships. There is no ‘us and them’, we’re all one. We cook the meal side by side, all contributing something, laughing the whole time. We sit down together, pray together, converse with one another, and share the meal we created together. Life is shared around the table. It is usually 3-5 people coming in and joining the 2-4 people that live there, so it’s a very intimate and personal environment to serve others.”
Through the Catholic Worker House, Luke has experienced the truth Pope Francis described: “In the poor, we see Christ, who for our sake became poor.” Luke describes one particularly meaningful experience of seeing one of the people he was serving going out of his way to serve others. He recalls, “One time, I took one of the guests of the Catholic Worker House, who we can call Mike, out to Happy Joe’s on his birthday. It was in the middle of a pretty busy day for me, so my mind was a little split going into it and I was hoping that it wouldn’t take too long. As soon as we walked into the restaurant, Mike walked right up to the hostess, introduced himself, asked how her day was going, and asked if she wanted to join us in celebrating his birthday. She respectfully declined, saying she had to work, but smiled in gratitude. When our waiter came by, Mike went through the same routine of introducing himself, asking about his day and inviting him to join us. He received yet another respectful decline and smile. Mike didn’t get discouraged and did the same thing with the table next to us- introducing himself, asking about their day, and inviting them to join us. While observing this, I had a moment of grace and awe. It didn’t matter who the person was, how often they might have been overlooked or under-appreciated in life, Mike, who I was supposedly serving, truly wanted to know them, be with them, celebrate with them, care for them, and persistently pursue them. Mike truly was Christ right in front of me, eating a large pepperoni and sausage pizza!”
Luke says, “There is another success story written every time we walk through the front door and exchange hugs with the people there, because whenever solidarity and relationships are formed with the poor, it is a success.”
Are you inspired to want to serve the poor at The Catholic Worker House? Please feel free to join Luke every first Tuesday or every third Thursday. There are no age restrictions! All are welcome to participate.
There are also many other ways to help the Catholic Worker House, such as yard work and minor house repairs.
For more information, contact Luke Ebener 217-494-1417 [email protected]