By Peter Bradley
In the mid 1980’s, the leadership of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, under the direction of Father Michael Barry, SS.CC., was challenged by the example and teachings of Jesus to reach out to the poor in their local communities. The initial effort was a soup kitchen at the former Our Lady of Fatima Parish in San Bernardino.
In 1991, the outreach ministry had moved to Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish on the west side of San Bernardino. With a larger kitchen and dining room, the ministry, now renamed Mary’s Table, was serving 5,000 meals a month.
Further expansion became possible in 1993, when the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word provided a grant that allowed the purchase of the old convent that became the first Veronica Home of Mercy, a long-term transitional facility for women. Soon after, the Casa Merced Re-entry Homes were begun to transition women from Veronica’s Home back to society. In 2009, a new 1,500 square foot Veronica’s Home was opened.
The mission of Mary’s Mercy Center is to reach out to the less fortunate of society; to help people grow and develop into useful, affirmed people in today’s world. The Center operates on three basic principles: first, do not judge; second, see Christ in each person; and, three, serve our guests.
Other services offered by Mary’s Mercy Center include weekly hot meals, a food bag program, showers, free medical screenings, St. Joseph Clothes Closet, a children’s program and an annual Christmas party serving over 1,900 attendees.
The above services are only possible through the generous donation of time by over 300 volunteers. Mary’s Mercy Center is a valuable partner with the governmental and non-profit agencies in the San Bernardino area. The hope for the future is to build a transitional housing complex for men near the current location of Mary’s Mercy Center.