A 10-foot tall banner depicting Pope Francis embracing a young child was hung July 1 on the exterior of the Samaritan House homeless shelter in downtown Denver, as a reminder of the need for loving service and encounter. “This beautiful image illustrates the Holy Father’s vision of love and charity in Jesus Christ,” said Wendy Oldenbrook, director of marketing and communications at Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Denver. The banner shows Pope Francis embracing a child present at his inauguration Mass in St. Peter’s Square last year. “We seek to live out this vision every day at Catholic Charities in service to the poor,” Oldenbrook said in a statement. She explained to CNA July 2 that the Samaritan House rotates banners frequently. Previous banners have included images of the Divine Mercy of Jesus and the Good Samaritan. The Pope Francis banner was put up with the hope that the image will communicate “kindness, respect for the most vulnerable, and the joy of serving others.” The particular image was chosen because of how happy the Holy Father looks as he encounters the child, Oldenbrook stated. “His gentle smile and joy radiate from the image,” she said. “He is as attentive and humble with a child as he is washing the feet of prisoners.” The Samaritan House is part of the Catholic Charities arm of the Archdiocese of Denver. It serves men, women and children facing homelessness, offering both shelter and programs to help residents obtain stable housing and income. The shelter fits in with the broader mission of Catholic Charities, which serves more than 50,000 people in need each year, through programs that include women’s services, family and child care aid, housing services and disaster response. In serving the poor and needy, the agency has found inspiration in Pope Francis’ saying, “At times we can be self-absorbed. Lord, help us to open our hearts to others and to serve those who are most vulnerable.” “We believe that his tangible witness is a powerful way to open hearts to the Love of Jesus,” commented Oldenbrook. “Pope Francis resonates with people because he lives his Faith in a simple, genuine way,” she added. “Driving home from the city — perhaps after a long day at work — passing by the homeless lining the streets near the Samaritan House, Pope Francis now looms, smiling, prompting us to slow down, encounter the world and open our hearts to the people right in front of us who are in desperate need.”
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