It is good to be back in the swing of fall activities. At this time of year, there is always the dual experience of familiarity in the return to the schedules and events the season of fall inevitably brings to us, and also the exciting newness that every year brings. This year at Saint Francis we have an additional focus in that we have begun the active phase of raising funds for the much-needed residential treatment facility which we hope to build in Salina, Kansas.
The history of this begins way back in 1945, when Fr. Bob Mize, an Episcopal priest who was serving in western Kansas and who seemed to have an understanding for troubled young people and a way of relating to them and eliciting positive response from them, began to be implored by worried parents and other family members to provide guidance and oversight for a number of young men who were in danger of falling into trouble with the law, or, in some cases, who were without parents who could care for them. Fr. Bob found that he could not turn these needy and vulnerable young men away, and that was the beginning of Saint Francis.
Immediately after committing himself to this ministry, Fr. Bob was faced with the need for a building in which to house these young men who were in his care. Yet, as almost always seems to be the case, there were only the most limited funds available for this. Indeed, some days, Fr. Bob was praying in the morning that there would somehow be food provided for the rest of the day. Through the goodness of many people who were willing to do what they could to help, this priest of little personal means but much dedication to serving Christ by serving these young people was able to scrape together enough to place a bid on a local building which had been what was known as a “poor farm.” Even at that time, the building was old, but it must have looked like the proverbial Godsend to Fr. Bob and his little band of boys. His bid was sufficient to obtain it, and they moved into the very building that we are seeking to replace now in 2012.
To me, this has always seemed an excellent model of good and faithful stewardship. We have used that building to touch countless lives for good, always basing that which we do on Fr. Bob’s understanding of the healing Gospel, which he called Therapy in Christ. The cornerstones of Therapy in Christ are unconditional love, taking responsibility for our actions, forgiveness, and beginning and ending each day with prayer.
The time has come, however—if truth be told, has more than come!—when this original building simply must be replaced. There are a whole variety of reasons for this, including the need to be able to provide space for different groups of children, i.e., girls as well as boys, younger children as well as teens, etc.; the need to fulfill newer requirements for state licensing, such as safety provisions in windows and floor plans, lighting requirements, the ability to have a complete line of vision for staff members in all common spaces, and so on. There are, of course, many possibilities in a new building for conservation of water, electricity, and other utilities that will save us in yearly expenses and allow us to be better stewards of our environment as well. Last but not least, more pleasant, well-lighted home surroundings for deeply troubled children helps establish hope and raise spirits, not only for the children, but also for their family members and for the staff members who work with them.
I would be most appreciative of your including this very important endeavor in your prayers. The following is the prayer we are using throughout this time.
God of Love: When you were among us incarnate, you took little children in your arms and blessed them. And throughout the ages you have called us through prophets and your Son, our Savior, to care for those in need. We ask your guidance as we seek to build a new residential center for those children who need the healing that only your love can give, and which can be best accomplished in an environment of security, light, safety, and hope. Help us to accomplish this dream to your glory and the welfare of your people. In Christ’s Name we pray. Amen.
If you might be able to contribute financially to our current fund drive. You can access the “Stepping Stones for Tomorrow” building campaign through the website www.st-francis.org or call our Development Department at 1-800-898-4896. It is no different today than in Fr. Bob’s time—many contributions of whatever size is possible for each individual, added together, is what will get the need met.
If you have questions please do not hesitate to phone me or one of our staff members working on development at the above listed phone numbers.
Thank you very much for your prayers and your support.