Recent reports on Franciscan Sisters miss their mark
By Brent Mattson
The B.C. Catholic
VANCOUVER--A recent story in a Vancouver newspaper reported the Archdiocese of Vancouver has abruptly cancelled food and clothing services formerly provided by the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement in the Downtown Eastside, but spokesman Paul Schratz says that's not the case.
"Nothing has been cancelled. In the wake of the sisters' departure this month, there's wonderful stuff happening," Schratz says. "We're working with other Downtown Eastside churches, charities, and government agencies to make sure there is as little stress as possible during this transition period, and that the result is even better service to the downtown needy."
He says the archdiocese's first priority was to ensure that the 500 people a day served by the sisters weren't abandoned during the transition. Since the sisters' service ended, the Door is Open soup kitchen next door has accommodated the hungry.
"We're happy the immediate needs are being taken care of and nobody is being overlooked."
Now the archdiocese is focusing on celebrating the sisters' legacy and reassessing its ministries to the people of the Downtown Eastside in co-operation with other downtown agencies and charities. The Missionaries of Charity, who are moving into the Franciscan convent, have yet to determine their new role.
"Changing religious communities is not like changing a light bulb," Schratz says. "Each order has its own gifts and ways of connecting with the people they live with. The Missionaries of Charity do not have a one-size-fits-all solution for every community they reside in."