Helping the Local Homeless

03-17-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Kenneth Brighenti

My dear parishioners,

I would like to address a critical problem that has arisen in the past two weeks. Two men, who appeared to be homeless, have found their way to our parish. In the past, city, police and our parish have tried to help them. One, indeed, has the financial capacity to help himself. The police have told us that they go around from various places until they have to be removed. This past weekend they were removed from the hospital, for causing issues with the nursing staff. They ended up at St. Magdalen. I contacted social services but they could not provide help since one has adequate income. The other gentlemen refused to give any information.

Police are fully aware of their activities and have tried to assist them but to no avail. In the interest of public safety, my primary concern is the welfare of the parish and our parishioners. It was because of the fact that one of the gentleman appeared to pose a threat and was intoxicated that we called the police. They were also observed trying to take money from the Narthex candle box and harassing parishioners at their cars.

So if you see them at the property we are advised by the police that they should not be approached rather the police should be contacted as they are considered vagrants. Again, we have tried to aid them through our many social outreach programs, the police departments of the Borough of Flemington and Raritan Township also tried to offer assistance, but all legitimate help was refused. I am sure that we all want them to have the proper care, but when they refuse it ties our hands. Due to our charitable nature this can be quite conscience jarring. Rest assure, if there was a way we could help we would have done so.

In the past, our parish has helped countless people through the Hope House with food, rent assistance, clothing and furniture. Catholic Charities in Flemington and the Diocese of Metuchen help thousands of people. Our parish works closely with the Borough of Flemington in referrals. Unfortunately, this is not the case with these two men. Rather, they have a regular operative normative of playing on people's genuine sympathy, all the while refusing the aid that could improve their living situations. We all hope that they will indeed heed legitimate help in the future.

Prayerfully yours in Christ,
Fr. Brighenti