Fr. Bob's Yellow Jacket

Last week, a very kind looking man came into our shop and was holding something familiar on a coat hanger.  The gentleman stated that this bright yellow jacket belonged to Fr. Bob Wheelock, one of the founding members of Franciscan Peacemakers who recently passed away and asked if we would like to have it.  “Ah, the yellow jackets! I remember those. We would absolutely love to have it!” I replied.  Looking at Fr. Bob’s jacket reminded me of how this ministry of now 25 years all began.

Fr. Bob and Fr. Mike were courageous enough to step out on faith and minister to the women on the streets with just a simple bag lunch and words of encouragement.  Food and encouraging words have always been the foundation of this ministry.  It is always about building relationships and trust in the beginning.  I remember thinking if there is one thing that I hope the women we serve always feel from us is that they are loved.  It has been the love for these women that has kept us going even when things seem hopeless and impossible…. even through a pandemic. 

I have been with Peacemakers long enough to know firsthand that God works in mysterious ways and always when we are at what seems to be our limits.  Just when we think there isn’t anything more we can do, it’s like God tells us WE can do more.  We have grown from a basic street outreach to being in the community handing out food to families and offering a vacation bible school program to school aged children and their parents.  We have hosted a women’s support group for the women wanting to make a lifestyle change from the street life and more recently have opened housing for women making a break from the streets and can now offer employment through our Franciscan Peacemakers social enterprise.

If anyone would have told me back in 2002 when I first started working here that we would evolve to what we are now, I would not have believed it.  But I have come to believe in the infamous quote of St. Francis of Assisi, “Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  I know the trajectory for us will be to keep expanding in some way, shape or form so that we can be better equipped to serve more women who desperately need healing.  I am hoping we can be around for another 25 years and look forward in awe and wonder to see what more we can all do together to make the impossible possible.

Peace and all good!

Carmen Fontanez

Director, Franciscan Peacemakers Social Enterprise