Jesuit Vincent Marchionni spent five months working at the Father McKenna Center in Washington, D.C., for his Long Experiment, during which a Jesuit novice engages in full-time apostolic work while living in a Jesuit community.
The center, named after Jesuit Father Horace McKenna, serves the poor, providing meals for homeless men, groceries for local residents and assistance for those facing eviction and utility cutoff.
Marchionni said that the Long Experiment taught him that simple acts of compassion and generosity profoundly and positively affect people’s lives, making God’s presence real and tangible.
“The men show tremendous gratitude for their meals, and it is God’s way of showing me that such grunt work truly does manifest His presence to those in dire circumstances,” he said.
Marchionni also led 12-Step meetings that focused on drugs and alcohol. The group used the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola to supplement 12-Step spirituality.
Marchionni said that through his experience of serving D.C.’s poorest he realized, “Jesus Christ is always laboring, always desiring to bring his brothers and sisters closer to him. He does hear the cry of the poor, and he answers them with gifts of hope and gratitude.”
Read more about Marchionni’s long experiment in Jesuits magazine.