“People say, ‘What is the sense of our small effort?’ They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time.” – Dorothy Day
Boise Catholic Worker was founded in 1998. It all began as a simple effort to make life easier for Boise’s homeless day job workers. Catholic Workers opened the local soup kitchen at 5:00 AM and provided coffee, juice, hard-boiled eggs and donuts. We also made sandwiches for those going to work that day.
From this simple ministry of hospitality a homeless day center, a house of hospitality and a social outreach center were eventually opened. The homeless day center Corpus Christi House has become an ecumenical effort where Catholic Workers continue to do works of mercy with other faith-based groups.
Our Catholic Worker house of hospitality is Thomas Merton House. It has been in existence since March 2005 and provides transitional housing to chronically homeless individuals.
Our main focus has been to provide safe hospitable housing for those who are mentally ill and/or suffering from addictions and seeking treatment. We believe that the majority of those living on the streets of Boise are suffering from mental illness and/or addictions. We believe homeless mentally ill and addicted persons are those most shunned by Boise’s urban society and they are hidden from sight within the concrete nooks and crannies of the city. They are often banned from local shelters and cannot even camp along the river without being ticketed. This forces them to walk the streets sometimes all night or to find an alley, dumpster, or some hidden place where they can sleep. This suffering prevents them from securing permanent shelter and meeting their basic survival needs. Some have died in the winter from freezing. Boise’s chronically homeless mentally ill and addicted are the suffering Christ whom we Catholic Workers seek to serve in our houses of hospitality.
Boise Catholic Worker opened a Social Outreach Center, Lazarus House, in November 2011 to provide free social services to those in need. Lazarus House also contains a Catholic Worker social justice library; a space to explore, debate and learn about social injustices affecting our world.