A Litany of Saints: Homeless and Poor

This is a litany of Saints in the form of the Litany used in the Roman Catholic Church on certain holy occasions like Ordinations. It has a beautiful chanting melody and is usually sung. But it is not a litany of canonized Saints (except for a few) but of those who died after facing years of homelessness and poverty and some of their servants who lead each stanza. The names of those who were also Roman Catholic Woman Priests and who died fighting all injustice including gender injustice within and outside of the church is asterisked*. Dr. Teresa Ann Grace Sievers,MD was a dedicated member of Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community whose selfless service without charge made it possible for more than thirty homeless individuals get into subsidized housing. She was brutally murdered in her home in June of 2015 by persons she knew. The trials of those accused of her murder are still pending and our community still reels from this tragic event. We are still in need of other Medical Doctors to take up her cause.

Pastor Judy Beaumont and I began our ministry with the homeless in Fort Myers in 2007 and we also served the homeless in New York, Chicago and Connecticut. Since 2007 far too many of the people we served have died, sometimes one after the other. Some were homeless at the time of death and some had been finally housed for several years. All faced physical illnesses and challenges, some faced mental challenges (mental health and developmental disability) and some faced addictions to alcohol, nicotine and sometimes other drugs. Some had cancer and needed more help and support to negotiate complex medical systems than they received. The fragile and precarious health statuses of individual’s and families who face homelessness and poverty often goes unseen and neglected. The stress and energy it takes to survive takes a high toll on human life.

In Fort Myers there are few Shelters or programs available, and fewer still that address the whole person who is homeless or homeless families. In addition to affordable housing, we need policies and programs and supportive temporary and permanent housing to assist the homeless. This will also take skilled outreach and supportive health services that are desperately needed. What results when services are few, meager, and have restricted entry including few beds in the one designated medical unit is the premature death of beautiful multidimensional human beings who have much to contribute to our community. Only two homeless persons in this litany made it beyond sixty.

This song is for the homeless, the hungry, and the poor who struggle to hold onto homes, and those who selflessly serve them and die while they are still serving. Such service in the context of the lack of public conscience and policies and programs that recognize the value of each and every human life brings much needless stress to all concerned. This litany includes only those we have served and know personally since 2007-the list of homeless dead in Fort Myers is sadly much longer. We salute the efforts of the Homeless Coalition here, and everywhere, to change this. But, in the name of our loving God, what is it going to take?

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The Litany of Saints
As we think of our communal neglect
of the homeless and poor,
God, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
God, have mercy.
RESPONSE
God, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
God, have mercy.

Now we pray for and with those
deceased whose lives of struggle
and service deeply inspire us to fight for change and serve the poor.

Judith Ann Beaumont*
tireless servant of the poor Pray for us
Michael Gordon Murray
Ruby Tuesday Pearce
Ben Walden
Lynn Brown
who battled demons of mind and body
and yet lived for others All you holy men and women pray for us

Dorothy Day Pray for us
Linda Denise Maybin
Thomas Ashley
Randall Lynn Bending
Robert Swanson
who bravely lived for
their children
and families All you holy men and women pray for us

Teresa Ann Grace Sievers Pray for us
James Leslie Root
Carl Two Dogs Trammell
Tammy Grimes
Sophie Lewandowski
And all taken so young
with so much good done
and left to do All you holy men and women pray for us

Letitia Rawles* and Claire Gareau*
gentle caretakers of creation Pray for us
John Arthur Woods
Wade Ray-Ray Chester Mallard
Andrew Johnson and Manuel Guerra
Frederick L. Jones
And all who died alone
or outside All you holy men and women pray for us

William Douglas Wallace
Melvin and Virginia Williams
David and Ellie Ver Nooy
Norma Jean Anmuth and Theresa Held
Napolean Leo Andrews
Joseph Bowman Junior
Barbara Candales Pundit
Janine Denomme* and Mary Styne*
Iris Muller* and Maureen Andrew*
Philip Berrigan and Martin Luther King
Edith Stein and Oscar Romero
Ella, Anne, Jack, Warren, Jule, Billy and Edith
All who have taught us to love and pursue justice,
All you holy men and women pray for us.


(Tune for the traditional Litany of Saints excerpted in form here:
John D.Becker, copyright 1987,published by OCP Publications, All rights reserved).

AMEN!
Love and blessings, Pastor Judith Lee,RCWP
Good Shepherd Ministries Fort Myers, Florida

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