Homeless in front of church

Every Sunday I have noticed that there are always a few homeless people sitting on the steps of the church I attend before Mass. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve always avoided them-- not because I don’t want to help them, but because I can be painfully shy especially around people I don’t know very well, and I also feel like I’m being a bit presumptuous and intrusive… since they have never asked me for any money.

But every time I walk past them without even saying hello, I feel awful and do not think God wants me to ignore them like that. It is something that is bothering me.

Aside from my shyness, I’m not really sure how to help these people. I was always told that giving the homeless money might not actually help them, because some might use the money for things such as drugs, although on the other hand I feel like I am being judgmental by thinking so. I have considered giving them food or asking if I could get them a coffee or something- but I don’t know if that would be a good idea … I mean, I’ve only seen people give them money (or ignore them).

Any thoughts or advice on how/ if I should approach them and how to help them and talk to them? Thanks!

It was very, very rare while I was homeless for people to give me money, although I didn’t beg for it either.

When people did give me money, it was MUCH appreciated. I think I usually got a sandwich or something. You can kind of tell if someone is a drunk by their eyes or very red skin. It’s harder to tell if they’re drug users.

Take some food with you, and maybe some drinks, when you go to Church. Then you don’t have to worry about them getting alcohol or drugs, and more importantly you will be blessed by Christ who said, “When I was hungry, you gave me no food…” etc.

It’s bothering you for a good reason, from the 25th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew:

If they are there every week, just pack some sandwiches the next time you go to Mass and hand them out. You don’t even have to say anything. Just remember “as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.”

God bless.

Ask them if there is anything you can get for them. Perhaps they need blankets, shoes, or something. You might not be able to give them shelter, but you can help them out with their clothing. If you have decent backpacks laying around that you never use, they might have use for them.

If they are sitting by the front door, and they are obviously homeless (not just 17), then I would assume by default they are asking for help.

why don’t you try inviting them in to church for mass? i’m sure they need some faith and encouragement as well. if they refuse, then yes, bring some food or water with you. i agree that giving money isn’t always the best option.

Make some sandwiches and buy a few sodas for them. I live in a small town, so there aren’t any people living on the street where I live. That is a shame. I would want to hand out Rosaries and sandwiches to them. You are so blessed to have the opportunity to walk by homeless people every Sunday.

God bless you. :blessyou:

From experience most of these people do not want food. They want money for drugs/alcohol. The church we use for our mass has a big problem with the homeless and with serious issues so much so that the church has told us to call the police if they start panhandling. I have seen them walk up and down the aisles during mass, come in during potlucks, not wanting food but money. We have offered to give them something to eat and they get upset that we do not offer money. Personally we have had them beat on our car windows demanding money telling us they know we have money. Really? We drive a 12 year old rattletrap vehicle. We barely make ends meet.

Also, by our church are several homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc., which most of the ones who show up refuse to go to or have been kicked out of for various issues.

I am willing to try and help to the best of my ability anybody in true need, but giving money to support a drug or alcohol habit is not charity.

wow!,kentucky must be rough.i live the washington d.d. metro area ,and i’ve never heard of nothing like this.your pastor told you to call the cops,again wow!!

I would bring food and especially water bottles in the summer. If they don’t take it then they’re not really homeless and are just after money. There are some people in my area who make a decent living just by standing outside asking people for money. Instead of having a job and going to work, they put on homeless clothes and stand outside holding signs. It was on the news.

The pastor of the church we use for our mass. Apparently there has been some serious criminal issues with certain homeless folks in the area so it is a safety issue. My daughter works in the area of downtown Lexington and she said that this same man comes into her workplace asking for money and gets very violent and they have had to call the cops and have him arrested. He also has used the bathroom in their ashtrays out front of the store, and not #1 and she gets the job of cleaning up the mess.

Lexington has a real problem with homeless people it seems. They have a park right in front of the main library that you can’t use because of the large amounts of homeless folks who have hurt, robbed and worse. The only time they are not there is when some big convention or lots of outside visitors will be in town, then, they mysteriously are “moved” for the event. It is a real problem. I will not go to the park or the water fountains in front of the courthouse because of past problems when taking my grandchildren there on a Saturday. Really very sad state of affairs. Some have mental issues, some have criminal issues, etc.

Here is the link for how dangerous these people are: wkyt.com/home/headlines/Residents-Lexington-park-too-dirty-and-dangerous-to-enjoy-163648076.html

There also seems to be a problem in this area with panhandlers who do it as a job and have bragged about making almost $40,000 a year standing at interstate exit ramps with a dog or a child. Anything to make a buck I guess but these guys are not homeless, just consider it their “job”. Then there is the guy who faked being in a wheelchair to get sympathy and money from people. He bragged to the local news about his exploits. Ended up in jail not to long ago on other issues. Sad to say but you really have to be careful anymore.

Here is a link to the story of the guy in the wheelchair:


First, not all disheveled people are homeless. Second for such people to sit on the church steps on a Sunday is a form of begging even if they do not ask or have their hand out. The point of sitting there it to guilt trip the church goer into a donation. I think the church should handle this as a whole, and that individual church members should nor donate directly to such people.

Each person needing help should be interviewed and evaluated by the deacons or priests, and an action plan agreed upon for further assistance. Part of this action plan would include a prohibition of begging on the church steps. Those who refuse to accept an action plan would be barred from church property. This would get rid of the druggies, and the alkies. Most of those do not want raised up. They merely want to feed their addiction. We must always strive to help the truly needy without falling into the trap of enabling negative behavior.

Proverbs 21:13 He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.

It is right to help the poor. You obey Hod by giving alms even if the poor person choses to disobey God. Naturally there are extenuating circumstances at times like one poster has experienced in Kentucky. If it is known some way or another that they want to only feed their addictions, do not give them money. There are Catholic groups that you can donate money for the poor to.

Fr Glen Baptiste, CR, travels to get alms donations for this ministry that he is a part of: foodforthepoor.org/ I saw him speak at my parish several months ago. :slight_smile:

Please help all needy people! I personally do not give them money directly, but I donate to them through a church that I attend.

Matthew 25:31-46
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Our diocese has had real problems with gypsies going through the parking lot after Mass asking for money. The priests at one parish (yeah, I was church hopping that day :)) gave very clear instruction to the faithful attending not to give money and that these groups were actually linked with criminal activity. They instructed anyone approached to redirect inquiries to clergy.


Thank you all for your input and suggestions :slight_smile:
I don’t think we’ve ever had problems with violence or anything in front of our church- the homeless seem quite friendly. But it makes sense not to give money… maybe I will ask them first what they would like. Or go with gift cards for groceries / restaurants.

Now I guess I just need to find the courage to approach and help them. I am the person who cringes at the thought of asking strangers for directions when I am lost :o So please pray for me and the homeless in front of the church

God bless you all!

As someone who was on his own at age eleven and who has thus experienced homelessness (as a youngster and once again much later in life as an adult - when tragedy/misfortune struck AND meaning that this was through no fault or laziness or my part), I am saddened by the negative attitudes and the misguided cynicism that some posters in here have. I am sad because 1. they’re wrong and 2. because they’re not acting like Christians. As to #2, can any of you imagine having to defend your homelessness to Jesus? Did he go around giving people reasons that others could use to ignore them and also as justifications to look down upon them? Well…I find nothing like that in the bible; and surely there were alcoholics and lazy beggars in Jesus’ time? Did Jesus also fail to mention that we shouldn’t give them money?

Hi snowflakeinlove, I to 'em a shy person and have problems talking to people. And we to have homeless people hanging around the church. So,what I did, I started volunteering to feed the homeless after the 7am Mass. Yes some are alcoholics others drug addicts or some are running from the law it make no differnce, all walks of life.

Today I know them by name and they know me. They’re great people and the majority of them are more then happy in just having a stranger say hello to them. When I say hello to them I’m actually saying " I love my friend as God loves you".

The rewards are great. So, maybe you might find a way to help them also.

God bless

jesus g

Dear Snowflake,

When my company used to send me on business trips to Pittsburgh, I would always have money left over from my expense account advance. I would purposely look for the homeless poor people around Newark Airport as I was walking my bags through the airport to the parking lot. Whenever I would encounter one I would give them $20. If a person was sleeping on a bus bench, I would quietly slip a $20 bill into their shirt pocket so as to not wake them up.

One day, as usual, I was returning through Newark Airport and I had $50 in my pocket – 2 twenties and 1 ten. Just as I was exiting the airport terminal I spotted 3 homeless people sitting near the doorway, chatting with each other. I just stood there, debating as to how I would divide up $50 evenly between 3 people. “Give two of them $20, and $10 to the third one…” or “Give all $50 to one of them and ask that person to share it with the other two…” I just couldn’t figure it out, and it was making me very uneasy. So, out of total frustration I decided not to give it to any of them. I was afraid that they would fight each other, feeling that one of them got cheated out of $10…or something like that.

As I continued out through the parking areas to my car I started to feel really really guilty. I felt totally miserable by the time I reached my car. Finally, I said, “OK LORD!!! Next time I don’t care how much I have, or however many they are…I’ll get rid of it all! I promise.”

In about a week and a half I found myself returning once again from Pittsburgh: THIS TIME I WAS PREPARED!!! I had 3 $20 bills in my pocket, and it would be easy to just give them away to the first 3 homeless people I met. …or so I thought. Even though it was bitter cold outside – the middle of winter – I could not find even one homeless person in the terminal. Then, as I was walking past the bus shelters, once again…no one! Under the arrivals and departures ramps… no one!!! What was going on here?

That night I returned home with 3 $20 bills in my pocket. I couldn’t understand why I was not able to find anyone to give them to, so I asked God that question when I was doing my evening prayers. It was just then…when God spoke up. “I will not always give you the privilege.” …was what I heard as sure as if someone was in my bedroom speaking to me.

He helped me to realize that, in my engineer’s mind, I had been too complex a week ago. What would a simple child have done? She would have just walked up to the three men and held out the money, not caring which one took it…or whether they would share it with each other.

I was not being simple…like a child. And Our Lord did not give me the privilege to correct that situation the next week. He wanted to teach me a valuable life-lesson.

Be simple…like a child.

Give without expecting anything in return.

Don’t care about what your gift will accomplish…don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.

Sound familiar? It should…it’s all in the Bible.

So now, whenever I see a poor or homeless person, I try my best to be simple…and just give whatever I can. I don’t worry about what they will spend it on. I don’t expect any thanks. I just remember that Jesus taught me, “Whatever you do to the least of these little ones, you do unto Me.”

…and that’s enough.

I hope that this helps you.

God bless you!

Just talk to them. Introduce yourself and ask them a few things about themselves. Talk about the weather or tell them what you have planned for the day. Don’t worry about what others think. Feel free to do that often. If they are in need they will probably ask. It sounds like you have a good heart. God bless you.

If you are worried about what they will use money for don’t give them money. If you see homeless on the street after eating at a restaurant give them your leftovers (they will not think it is gross). Give them a few McDonalds hamburgers. Ask them if they need socks or deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc. This is what they receive at shelters and they will not be embarrassed.

Peace be with you.

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