Shelter the Homeless/Welcome the Stranger

Online Lesson:

These online lessons may be used:
• by individuals anytime, anywhere.
• in group settings — families, faith sharing groups, faith formation programs, and schools.
• in “flipped” classroom situations for people to view before meeting face to face.
You may just want to use a suggested video, story, or question — in anyway that helps us recognize that God’s mercy is anytime, anywhere, and we are called to be merciful as well.

The structure of the lesson is based on Msgr. Francis Kelly’s Ecclesial Method.

Step 1 – Preparation: Each lesson will begin with a video and prayer to help us focus on the Works of Mercy in General.

Works of Mercy Reflection:

Think of a time someone “did good” to you for no other reason than the emotion they experienced.
(The subtitles are easier to read if you click the button on the bottom right of the video to make it full screen)


O God, we pray that we may be open to Your movement in our hearts.

So that we may hear the stories of others, and be inspired.
So that we may see the suffering of others, and be compassionate.
So that we may understand others, and walk with them.

And so that, with the help of Christ who taught us how to love, we may do our part to make real your Reign. We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Step 2 – Proclamation: Each lesson will repeat the Works of Mercy to help us remember them.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy:

The Spiritual Works of mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbors with their emotional and spiritual needs.

Counsel the doubtful
Instruct the ignorant
Admonish sinners
Comfort the afflicted
Forgive all offenses/injury
Bear wrongs patiently
Pray for the living and the dead

The Corporal Works of Mercy:

The Corporal Works of mercy are these kind acts by which we help our neighbors with their material and physical needs.

Shelter the homeless/Welcome the stranger
Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead

Step 3 – Explanation: This step will address a specific Work of Mercy. We will focus on Shelter the homeless/Welcome the stranger.

This Month: Shelter the homeless/Welcome the stranger

For I was … a stranger and you welcomed me.. [Mt. 25:35,]

As the Holy Family needed a welcoming hand before Jesus’ birth, watch how retired priests and religious extend a welcoming hand to others far from home, and how they were the ones blessed. Think of ways you can be welcoming to others in your environment.

Step 4 – Application and Appropriation into Life is the bridge between head knowledge and daily living as a disciple of Christ.

Faith in Action:

Acclaimed as “a Canadian who inspires the world” (Maclean’s Magazine) and a “nation builder” (The Globe and Mail), Jean Vanier is the founder of the international movement of L’Arche communities, where people who have developmental disabilities and the friends who assist them create homes and share life together. –L’Arche Canada Foundation

Reflection Questions:

What do the above three videos have in common?
How do you feel your heart opening up as you view these videos?
What do you feel drawn to?
How do you feel your heart resisting as you view these videos?
What do you feel threatened by?
How hard is it to believe in “good”?
How can you make your world more beautiful through small… or large… acts?
What do the people in the videos receive by giving of themselves?

Suggested Activities (add your suggestions below):


  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or “Church of the Week” as a family.
    Make a “care package” to give to homeless, including such items as a water bottle, warm socks, gloves, granola bars, etc.


  • Collect funds for homeless shelters.


  • Make kits for the homeless filled with toiletries and donate them to homeless shelters.

Step 5 – Celebration: Lessons will close with a prayer, silent or communally, that gives glory to God.

Closing Prayer:

Tender God,

We thank You for all the gifts You have given us. We ask You to keep us mindful of the needs of others that we, together with our Church community, can help make Your Reign become more visible in our midst. We ask this as we pray:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


In the “Leave a Reply” area below, please suggest another activity people could do to address this Work of Mercy, share a story about someone who welcomes the stranger, or write your own prayer for people in need of welcoming.


Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.


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