Ask Jesus what He wants from you and be brave.

I work in a big building. A big seminary building. This building is located in the not-nicest part of Detroit. So, around this building is a fence.

Sometimes, I walk around the track in the back of the building and look out through the fence. Here I am, walking the opposite direction of anyone on the outside, perhaps looking a little bit elitist inside the fence in my work clothes, as the people on the outside of the fence walk by, perhaps looking a little down on their luck. Here I am walking along the well groomed track, as they walk along, overgrowth spilling onto the sidewalks and forming cracks.

In this big church building, men are formed for the priesthood and laity are formed to be ministers in the Church. We learn about this God of Love, about a Church that reaches out. About Jesus, who cared for the poor, the broken, the sick. About radical saints.

Yet, there is a fence around the building.

I am not against the fence. There is a reality about the location of the building that cannot be ignored. There is a practicality of the fence.

Yet, most of the people within the fence come from the safe suburbs, claiming the Heart of Detroit, but fleeing from it all the same.

I am not against the suburbs. I live in the suburbs (more out of practicality than desire, but that's a different conversation).

Recently, this big building acquired the run-down, abandoned, graffitied building and land next door, and words have been said about expanding, for the programs and seminarians and the parking. Admittedly, I do not know all the logistics, I do not know the plans for the future, and I do not know all the things that go into expansion and so on and so forth.

I guess in my young, idealistic thought processes, I wish that words were being said about building up the neighborhood. Words about creating safe spaces for the kids, and assistance for the people down on their luck, and a place that seminarians and laity could serve this community.

This building, and the fence, looms very large, I am sure. A constant reminder to parts of the community that the Church needs to be protected. Our future priests and lay ministers need to be kept safe from the darkness and pain and distress that clearly affects the surrounding area.

But isn't that the point? Isn't the point of the Church to go after the poor and the broken and those in darkness? When was the last time, besides the once yearly event, that the people in darkness saw the great light coming from this building? This great light that should shine forth from our building and not stop at the fence.

As a Church, we are not called to be safe. We are called to be brave. We are called to be, Mother Teresa level radical. A Church that reaches out.

The Church does not need to be protected. The Church needs to love.


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