No room at the inn…. a Christian response to homelessness

A Word from Fr. Sean Donohoe ofm cap – Co. Director.


We are quite simply overwhelmed by the kindness of people particularly at this time of year and wish to acknowledge all the There was no room.  There was a response.  What actually happened that day at that time in Bethlehem.   From a civic perspective everywhere was at capacity.  There was no spare space.   At the same time the inn keeper responded as best he could with what was available to him.  This was what I would have called a Christian response to homelessness.   The situation, in my opinion, in the Irish setting is no different.  There is an enormous shortage of housing in our country.  We have those who are obvious to us who sleep on our streets, in tents, in hostels, in emergency accommodation, in hotels and hubs.  We have others who still live at home way beyond the years of childhood and adolescence, who are young adults, who cannot afford to buy or rent a home.  There are people sleeping on sofas in friends or extended families’ homes.  These too are homeless although are not included in the governmental statistics because they are deemed to have shelter.  While there is no doubt that there is a crisis, as there was that holy night in Bethlehem, I am also convinced that there is also a vibrant Christian response within our culture these days.  The inn keeper couldn’t solve the major crisis but he, with the poor resources he had, attempted to ease the situation for one couple as they searched for shelter.  It was within this threefold relationship of the Woman, her husband and the innkeeper that Christianity was born.


My ministry is at the Capuchin Day Centre which is a place of shelter where those who are hungry can come to eat.  It is a place where those with various different needs can come to avail of care and concern.  We have at our Centre doctors, a nurse, a chiropodist, dentists, a family social worker, optician and barbers. We would normally have around 300 people for breakfast and 650 to 700 for lunch.  On a weekly basis we distribute 1400 food parcels (we also provide food parcels from our friary in Kilkenny) we provide baby food and nappies to 250 families each week.  We welcome all those in need and try to facilitate them as best we can.  We ask no questions and our primary purpose above all is to treat each individual with respect and dignity.  We cannot solve the homeless crisis in our country.  We can only, with the help of our staff and our volunteers, ease the situation in our little Capuchin Franciscan way for those who have nothing, for those whom civil society say, in different ways, that there is no room.  Above all it is humbling for me as a friar that the ordinary people of our country are so enormously generous in supporting the Centre in so many different ways that I see in their trust of us a real Christian response to the crisis.


No one in our city needs to hunger for food.  A Christian response goes beyond food.  Besides food hunger there is hunger for friendship, recognition as a person, to be included, to be recognized as an equal member of society.  We, each one of us can, like the inn keeper, respond to these basic needs by a smile, a kind word, using our voices in places where those others don’t feel able to have a voice.  Each one of us Christians have different gifts.  Using these gifts together is, collectively, what we call Church.   The inn keeper had nothing but an empty stable to offer.  He did just that and great things happened in our World.  The question I have for myself and for all of us, is what have I to offer, out of my resources outside and inside of myself.  If we use the gifts we have been given for the poor woman or man, for their child, then Christianity is born among me and them, between us and them and we become one Church. I haven’t got all the resources myself to solve the homeless crisis in our country therefore I am poor.  The Church hasn’t got all the resources to solve this crisis either.  Therefore, in this situation the Church is poor.  An excellent place to be.  A poor church for the poor.  Let us share our gifts in poverty with our brothers and sisters and together create a place where Christ can be born among us.




Bro. Sean Donohoe

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A Day of Great Joy and Blessings

25th August 2018


Pope Francis pays tribute to the dignity of the people

who attend the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin.









Saturday 25th August was a day of great joy for our family here in the Centre when Pope Francis came to walk among us.  During his visit he said he was touched by the service that does its best to respect and value each person and tries to ensure that no one is excluded or left behind.  He paid tribute to the dignity of the people who attend the Centre and thanked them for placing their trust in the Capuchins. The Pope also asked us to extend his blessings on all who support and help us.


We could not operate this Centre without the help of our steadfast supporters and amazing donors. Our prayer for you is that God will reward you and your loved ones with every joy and blessing.



Br. Kevin Crowley  and  Br. Sean Donohoe