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St. Francis Inn Receives Peace Award

Michael Duffy accepts the St. Rita’s Peace Award on behalf of St. Francis Inn. (Photo courtesy of Chelsey Turner, shown in photo)

PHILADELPHIA — Each year, St Rita’s Shrine, a well-known shrine on South Broad Street in Philadelphia staffed by the Augustinians, honors a person or an organization that makes a significant contribution to the betterment of the city with the St. Rita’s Peace Award. This year, they chose St. Francis Inn.

On Friday night, May 4, a banquet was held in South Philadelphia attended by roughly 150 people. Past honorees, Augustinian friars, and representatives from several non-profits in the city were in attendance. Toward the end of the meal, several people were acknowledged including Joe Bradley, a former professor at Villanova University, activist and founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship – and, by coincidence, a volunteer at the Inn.

The director of the Shrine, Chesley Turner, read a detailed description of St. Francis Inn, the charitable works it does and the contribution to the Church and to the city of Philadelphia. I accepted the award and spoke of the Inn’s beginnings – Roderic Petrie, OFM, Anthony (Bob) Struzynski, OFM, and Emmet Murphy, OFM. I emphasized that the Inn has been successful only because of the many and generous Philadelphians who contribute, volunteer and share their blessings with the Inn. Other staff members in attendance were Sr. Leslie Birks, OSF, Sr. Mary Augustini, OSF, Karen Pushaw, Kelly Canning and Edgar Alberto, a Franciscan Volunteer Minister and a future postulant.

The evening ended with a gift presented by St. Rita’s Shrine to St. Francis Inn of a large framed picture of St. Rita blessing and making peace between well-known enemies (looking closely, there is St. Francis in the middle of it all!). The framed picture now hangs in the Inn’s downstairs office for the guests and visitors to see.

St. Francis Inn Ministries – in the Kensington section of the city – was established in 1978 with the opening of St. Clare’s Thimble, a thrift shop, and the following year with St. Benedict’s Thrift Shop and St. Francis Inn soup kitchen, which serves two meals a day to several hundred people in need. The ministries are staffed by friars and laypeople, some of whom are permanent workers and other who volunteer for short periods of time. Information about its services – including a timeline of the opening varied ministries- – can be found on the Inn’s website.

Fr. Michael is guardian of Juniper Friary in Philadelphia and a member of the St. Francis Inn team where he has worked for nearly 30 years.

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