“We are to become vessels of God’s compassion for others.”
St. Clare of Assisi
Kensington - a neighborhood in the city of Philadelphia - has made national headlines as ground zero for the nation’s opioid epidemic. The area had one of the highest rates of overdose deaths in Philadelphia, as the city sees its number of overdose deaths continue to climb from heroin and other toxic drugs that have been introduced to our urban areas.
In an effort to minister among those who live on the margins of society, particularly those who are unsheltered and facing substance use disorder, Clare Project members have been a pastoral and loving presence on the streets in Kensington under the direction of the Rev. Phillip Geliebter, a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
“We must be the church that goes out to the poor,” said Bishop Gutiérrez in a 2019 diocesan convention address. In that same address he mentioned development of, and financial support for, the Clare Project in Kensington “which would spiritually support those in need, the unsheltered and those suffering from substance abuse disorders.”
“We walk among those who are unsheltered and facing substance use disorder in the Kensington area of the city offering support, prayers, medical triage and first aid,” said Geliebter. “Each time, we pray that we see Jesus in those we minister with, and we pray that they see Jesus in us.”
Clare Project team members have a diverse skill set, ranging from training in medicine, emergency services, and pastoral care.
St. Clare was a companion of St. Francis of Assisi. “Our patron saints were known for their radical call to follow Christ by service to the poor and those considered outcasts in society," said the Rev. Kristen Ostendorf, who is an essential part of the project.
The Clare Project is seeking volunteers trained in counseling or pastoral care, medicine or nursing, and social work, to walk with them. They are also looking for churches that can partner with them in supply drives, packing and other supporting tasks.
To volunteer or learn more, please reach out to the Rev. Kristen Ostendorf (email@example.com) or the Rev. Phillip Geliebter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We are seeking volunteers trained in counseling or pastoral care, medicine or nursing, and social work, to walk with us. We also seek parish partners to assist us with supporting tasks, such as supply drives and packing.