“Enjoy,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez, placing the plate of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and salad in front of the middle-aged man with the shaved head. He repeated the motion with the other hand to a nearby gentleman wearing a flannel shirt. Then he headed back to the counter of the Cardinal Manning Center for two more paper plates.
The archbishop helped serve lunch to more than 70 men on Jan. 26 at the transitional homeless shelter as part of Pope Francis’ call for a Year of Mercy in the universal Catholic Church. The jubilee year started last year on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and runs until Nov. 20, 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.
The center provides a 10-bed transitional living opportunity with case management services for working men who save their money and set goals to become housed; 55 emergency beds and case management help to men living on the street; and assistance to individuals in meeting their basic needs, obtaining housing, finding work and pursuing an education.
“It really means a lot that the leader of the Catholic Church here would come down to Skid Row to serve us,” said Richard Mesa, who was in the center’s transitional housing program for seven months and now has permanent housing. “This place saved my life, so I’m glad to see the archbishop.”