As a Catholic ministry serving people regardless of their faith, we are blessed to have the spiritual leadership of Fr. Louis Fowoyo on our board. Fr. Louis of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church was born in Kogi, Nigeria, one of 10 children.
He answered the call to serve on the board of St. Joseph Missions because he sees it as fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ: "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19).
“Being a disciple is to share in the hope of the resurrection. There is no one who needs to hear the Good News more than those who have lost hope in life,” says Fr. Louis.
“I feel called to serve in this way because the most vulnerable among us are the poor who have nobody to help them. Poverty does not exclude any gender or race or color. However, women with no home seem to be more in number and they need to be given hope in a world that seems to surround them with hopelessness. Single homeless women, if not cared for, can be abused, assaulted, and even killed. Single homeless women are everywhere in the world. With St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter, we can impact those women in our small part of the world, providing them not only housing but real hope.”
Just like so many other major life events, Lisa Fabian believes there’s a higher plan at work around her.
“The more I immerse myself in St. Joseph Missions, the more readily I see the hand of God at work,” she says.
In reflecting over the many things that came about to arrive at this moment, Lisa concluded the following:
“I have referred to the invitation from Dr. Monique Levesque-Hartle to join St. Joseph Missions as a stalwart beacon that came along when I was somewhat adrift.
I have referred to St. Joseph Missions as an avenue for putting my faith, instilled by two devout Catholic parents, in action alongside likeminded volunteers.
I have referred to it as a poignant means for honoring loved ones lost by continuing their good works beneath their watchful gaze.
I have referred to it as a passion, a blessing, a gift. But I will never refer to my joining the board of St. Joseph Missions as a coincidence.”
As an architect, and as a human being, Nathan Moore understands that basic shelter is a foundational need for people.
“I cannot imagine a more important mission than providing shelter and stability to those most in need.”
Those most in need right now in Fort Wayne are single homeless women, who have no emergency shelter to flee danger and receive needed support and services. St. Joseph’s Missions is raising funds to create Fort Wayne’s first such shelter.
“Dignity and respect, safety and love are needed by all of us and I truly believe that a safe environment is crucial to a person's well being,” says Nathan. “I am confident that this mission is being blessed because there is a great need for a safe place and a nurturing environment for single homeless women in our community.”
The shelter’s impact on the women and the community as a whole could be profound.
“I look forward to seeing those who are served by the shelter experience love and growth on a personal level and then sharing themselves and their stories with others who need that love. The idea that those who participate in the shelter will enrich and empower our community through their growth and sharing with others can only strengthen the fabric of the community.”
When Dan Przybyla returned to Fort Wayne for a new job opportunity in 2017, he soon discovered the amazing work of Catholics on a Mission.
Meeting people like Dave MacDonald, Sharon Ley Kacprowicz, Monique Levesque-Hartle, Joseph Schenkel and Susan Byers who devoted their time by helping our homeless brothers and sisters of our community, inspired Dan to be present as well in service to those in need.
Dan is grateful to serve on the board of St. Joseph Missions, an organization committed to supporting single homeless women threatened by abuse or violence.
“These single women are the lone homeless population in our community without a place to go for safety, comfort, and a new start. I’m hopeful our community will rally around our mission — whether it’s through prayers, donations or volunteering — to create the St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter.”
St. Joseph Missions wouldn’t exist today if not for the faith, conviction, and love of Dave MacDonald
The husband, father, and new grandfather, helped get our non-profit group off the ground after serving the homeless in Fort Wayne for many years as part of Catholics on a Mission.
“Every person is created in God’s image and has inherent value. Christ calls us to serve him by serving His people through Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy,” says Dave. “Mother Teresa was a role model for us. She encouraged serving the people right in front of you — to be missionaries wherever God has planted you.”
God planted Dave and others in downtown Fort Wayne where “simply sharing a sandwich, a cup of coffee, a smile, a kind word, and God’s love, we experienced community as the Body of Christ.”
It became apparent that while programs and social services were already in place, many of their friends were slipping through the cracks.
That’s why Dave and others felt called to close the gap by wanting to create the St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter.
“As a culture, we’re losing the ability to make real connections with real people who need our help,” explains Dave. “Single, homeless women are among the most vulnerable and we have a responsibility to watch over and protect the most vulnerable God has put in our lives. They are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, and friends.”
We need your help if we’re going to help our homeless sisters in our community.
As a mother and grandmother, Susan Byers feels a strong calling to help the homeless. It started with Saint Jude Catholic Church youth ministry program by taking high school teens downtown to serve the homeless.
That experience and her commitment to Catholics on a Mission outreach, has led Susan to volunteer to serve on the St. Joseph Missions Board.
“Of all populations, the single, female homeless is one that should have shelter most of all,” says Susan, who works as Director of Student Success for the Doermer School of Business at Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Which is why she’s so dedicated to seeing the creation of the St. Joseph’s Missions Women’s Shelter.
“I believe strongly in advocating for those who may not be in a position to have much of a voice and speak their need. Through the shelter, we can connect women with appropriate resources in Fort Wayne and help them build the support network they need to have a better life and create a more hopeful future.”
Thank you Sharon Kacprowicz for your tireless service to the St. Joseph Missions Board of Directors. We will miss you but we also know that you’re still going to give your time and talent to a mission for which you care so deeply.
We’re a lot closer to the reality of our community’s first emergency homeless shelter for single women because of how much you love and how hard you work to help those in need.
Joseph Schenkel not only has a passion for helping the poor, he’s using his talents and knowledge to help change the trajectory of their lives.
As our board treasurer, Joe, who also volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul Society - Fort Wayne, is applying his considerable financial expertise and non-profit background to assist in the creation of the St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter (SJMWS).
“After serving with the outreach of Catholics on a Mission, I became more aware of the plight of the single woman who finds herself without a home,” says Joe, a husband, father, and grandfather.
Something has to be done to assist single homeless women — and Joe believes the SJMWS can make a life-changing difference in our community.
“St. Joseph Missions will help allow women to start working towards reaching their goals and changing their lives.”
Monique Levesque-Hartle has a place in her heart for helping people who are homeless.
“I know what if feels like to not have a place to call home as I was dependent on friends and family for shelter for a short period of time right out of high school," says the long-time chiropractor, mother, and board president of St. Joseph Missions.
Unfortunately, the reality is that single homeless women in Fort Wayne have no emergency shelter options -- leaving them at risk for sex trafficking and violence.
“There is a huge gap in services available for homeless women in Fort Wayne. They are the only population that literally has no where to go in case of emergency,” explains Monique.
But thanks to Monique's dedication and those of others throughout our community, these women will soon have a place to go.
"My hopes for St. Joseph Missions Women's Shelter is to give women a safe place to start over, to discover their worth and potential, and to be the force that leads them onto a new path in their lives.”
Tom Weir is saddened at the sight of single women in Fort Wayne who are homeless with no place to go. Tom, a husband, father, mental health social worker, and St. Joseph Missions board member, feels God calling him to help these women at risk for sex trafficking, domestic abuse, or violence.
“I became convinced the St. Joseph Missions Women’s Shelter is something God wants in our community as one more expression of His love for women in need.”
The shelter, he believes, will provide a peaceful, loving environment for homeless women to get off the street and eventually find a permanent home. He hopes others in our community will feel called to assist our mission in their own unique way.
“Fort Wayne and our people are generous and compassionate and I hope more people learn about the miracles happening with this project and join us in this mission.”