December Newsletter 2016

“Jesus stands at the door knocking. In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar,
of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in
every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth
as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes
demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the
Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human
being among us.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “God Is In the Manger”

Christmas 2016

Dear Friends,           

Two thousand years ago in a small village, in an occupied country, a baby was born of an unwed mom and a slightly confused dad.  This Holy Family quickly became undocumented refugees in Egypt.  From these humble beginnings, a band of brothers and sisters arose with the grace of God.  So much has changed since then.

Two thousand years from now, if our species survives threats like climate change and nuclear annihilation, there will be even greater changes than we can imagine.  The arc of history has been and will be toward full equality between men and women.  Mortal enemies of yesterday (France and England,  Japan and the USA, Germany and Poland) are and will become one world.  The arc of history, if we are to survive, must lead to a world without war. (Note: in every war today, 2/3 of all casualties are innocent civilians). 

Feudalism ruled our world from about the 9th to the 15th century.  Primogeniture, surfs, lords, education only for rich male heirs were all common and accepted as the way things were and would be forever.  They are ending. Democracy is new.  Marrying for love is in its infancy. Women’s right to vote is less than a hundred years old.

So much has changed and will change.

The light of Christmas, born in a stable, is an invitation to each and all of us to be on the right side of the arc of history.  Women’s rights, civil rights, a world without war, equality for all with one God – this is our future, if we give ourselves enough time to travel there as brothers and sisters.  For now, in our lives and work, we try to feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned and find Christ. (Matt 25)

Have a Holy Christmas,

Larry Purcell, Ronnie Georges, Sr. Mary Jane Floyd,
Jan Johanson, Aida Figueroa, Susan Crane,
Doug Herbek and J. Arthur 

P.S. If you believe that the above is pie-in-the-sky, then remember, cannibalism was once an acceptable way to survive.


  1. FOOD in any amount. 
  2. Household needs:  quart size freezer bags, tickets to events, bikes (locks and lights, too), lap top computers, ipods, cars, RV’s, brooms, a power washer, a handy man to fix little things, detergent, cleanser, Pine Sol etc.
  3. Day Laborers: If you need gardeners, haulers carpenters, plumbers, craftsmen or handymen call Cesar or Juan Carlos (650) 339-2794.
  4. Homeless friends need: sleeping bags, blankets, socks, ponchos, long underwear, tents, camping equipment, and warm jackets & sweat shirts.  Call Susan or Doug (650) 366-4415.
  5. A house or money to buy a house. Call Larry for a free cup of coffee. (650) 366-4415.
  6. Your ongoing love and support. This year we are helping 5 college students with  individual $3,000 grants.

“Always Be Grateful” November 2014 Newsletter

“Always be grateful.” (St. Paul the Apostle)

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                           Thanksgiving ‘14

The Giants won the pennant!!!! The Giants won the World Series!!!! How could life get any better for us diehard Gigantes fans? I’ll tell you how, but first I digress.

In early November a group of Catholic Worker supporters (Jim McGarry from the University of Notre Dame Dorothy Stang Center, a few Notre Dame Sisters, and Butch & Lynn Shafsky & friends) collaborated with us to open a new home for women in Redwood City. Our first guest there is Veronica (age 43, needs hearing aids, and has diabetes). Veronica has a daughter on full scholarship (tuition, room and board) at Notre Dame University. Prior to moving into her new abode, Veronica lived in a U Haul storage shed. Her new 1 and a half bedroom apartment was donated by one of our other supporters. Veronica will not pay rent for the first month and since December (Christmas) is always free, she will have the first two months free. Once she gets a job, her room, board, and utilities will never be more than ¼ of her income. If she has no income, then everything is free.

Now back to my question. As much as I love the Giants, as excited as we were when they won, it breaks my heart to know that Fred (our local resident Vet) lived in a tent in the mudflats for two years and that Veronica lived in a storage unit, and that Day Laborers get crammed into a rental unit in sleeping bags rolled out right next to one another, and that men & women need to sleep on our front porch and that Ingrisd spent a year in prison seeking asylum until Susan welcomed her to another home for women. Life can be much, much better than the Giants winning the World Series.

It is true that we beg for everything at the Catholic Worker House. It is also true that we live like kings. We have homes, beds, toilets, showers, cars, hot water, phones, clothes, medicine, T.V.’s etc. ALL THAT WE HAVE IS A GIFT.

This Thanksgiving we turn to God and you, our supporters, to say “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” And we pray that life will become a lot better for sisters and brothers in need. I agree with Peter Maurin who helped found the Catholic Worker:

The world would be better off
if people tried
to become better,

And people would
become better
if they stopped trying
to be better off.

For when everyone tries
to become better off
nobody is better off.

But when everyone tries
to become better
everyone is better off.

Everybody would be rich
if nobody tried
to become richer.

And nobody would be poor
if everybody tried
to be the poorest

And everybody would be
what he ought to be
if everybody tried to be
what they want
the other person to be.


For decades, non-violent peace activists in the Bay Area and throughout the western states have joined together to stop the insanity of nuclear weapons and transform weapons of mass destruction into low cost housing, rapid transit, alternative energy and sane living that contributes less to global warming. We demand that our government spend less on weapons and more on job-creating priorities like education, health, and the environment.

On Sunday, March 1st 2015, at Vallombrosa Retreat Center in Menlo Park, we will host an evening dedicated to PEACE. All are invited. On Monday, March 2nd you are also invited to a non-violent direct action against war and for life at Lockheed/Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale. Lockheed is the largest weapons manufacturer in the world. For details, call Susan or Larry at (650) 366-4415.

Peace and gratitude,
Larry for all of us


  1. Food in any amount. We now house over 25 people a night at various locations in Redwood City (two homes for Day Laborers, 2 residences for VETS, 2 apartments for women and children and our home for troubled teens).
  1. Household needs: socks, hand soap, Turkeys or Safeway gift certificates for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, a volunteer carpenter to replace kitchen counters and repair our front porch, Kleenex, paper towels, Pine Sol etc
  1. Christmas gifts for the families & teens we serve: gift certificates to Target, Old Navy, Payless shoes, Movie passes (Cinemark), music, clothing, jewelry, or anything teens and children love. We do have a number of smaller children in our communities now. (ages 6-12).
  1. Tutors for our English Language School to help small children with homework. Call Sr. Mary Jane (650) 366-4415.
  1. Jobs for Day Laborers: call Cesar at (650) 339-2794
  1. Your ongoing love and support.

“There is a movement of nonviolence all over the world” Dorothy Day

In 1971, Dorothy Day and Tom Cornell were interviewed on the Christopher Closeup Show. Dorothy was introduced as the cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement, author of several books, and widely travelled lecturer. Tom Cornell was the former editor of the Catholic Worker newsletter.

During the interview, Dorothy, comments that “There is a movement of nonviolence all over the world.”

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Thank you, Bicycle Exchange!


Jack Miller at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Exchange with bikes for the Redwood City Catholic Worker.

This morning we picked up 17 bikes from Jack Miller at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Exchange in Mountain View, California.

What an amazing operation the Bicycle Exchange is!  Not only do they fix up donated bikes to give away, but they teach and mentor others in bike repair.

Everyone who works there is a volunteer, and on designated Saturdays, they meet at the Bicycle Exchange. Tents and work stations are set up, tool caddies are rolled out, and volunteers and skilled mechanics come.   They gather from 10-3 on Second and Fourth Saturdays.

The refurbished bikes are made available to many local community service organizations.

Bike parts are bought with donations and from the sale of some of the better bikes.


Silicon Valley Bicycle Exchange tool caddy.

People of all ages, and all mechanical experience,  come and work together.

Some of the bikes that were given to the Catholic Worker went to Ramon Gomez and Rudy Lara from the Multicultural Institute. Ramon and Rudy work with day laborers on the Peninsula and in the East Bay.  The men and women use the bikes to get to jobs.


Lee Kasten uses his new bike to go to the library, and to get exercise.


Ramon Gomez and Rudy Lara from the Multicultural Institute picked up bikes for day laborers to use to get to work.


Ana Varela picked up a bike for her friend who just got a new job and needs a way to get to work.

“Always Be Grateful”

“Always be grateful.”  St. Paul the Disciple
Larry Purcell

The Catholic Worker House in Redwood City began in 1974. At our home for troubled teens we try to make sense out of everyday life and the Gospels. No one is paid to work here, and no one is charged anything to stay here. Following the example of Jesus, St. Francis, Dorothy Day and others, we have tried to share our lives and love with the poor because we are all sisters and brothers in the family of God. With God’s grace and the generosity of many, many supporters, we live like kings and have become a bridge between the needs of the very poor and the phenomenal wealth of the community surrounding us.

Larry Casa de Clara

Hundreds of teens have lived with us. Many have come from jails, hospitals, and families who are falling apart. For example, years ago Al came to us from Juvenile Jail. He couldn’t go home because his mom had committed suicide in front of him and his father (a raging alcoholic) did not want to live with a thief. While living with us, Al had a complete emotional breakdown.  After 3 months in a psych unit, he returned to us, his only functioning family. He continued to live with us through high school, moved in with one of our supporters for a year, and then got his own apartment. We furnished that apartment (with gifts from you our supporters), taught him to drive, gave him a car,  and loved him until he died of AIDS at age 30.

A few of our teens have arrived from other countries which just proves how small earth has become and how big God’s family has always been. However, the vast majority of our teens are from San Mateo County and many, many have undiagnosed drug and alcohol addictions. The children who live with us come from rich and poor, working and unemployed parents. They are black, white, brown and homeless. All teens who are homeless are DESTITUTE!!! Because the emotional, economic, educational, and personal needs of our teens are so great, we only work with three or four at a time. We need professionals to volunteer to work with and employ our teens. Our goal at the Catholic Worker is to establish a safe and sane family.  We have dinner together and do homework together. Together we celebrate birthdays, holidays and accomplishments, like getting a driver’s license. In our home we have a lot of come-union. The truth is LOVE WORKS.  The teens stay with us from 6 months to a few years until they are able to go to college, live in their own apartment, or move on safely.

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Food Distribution

Food Distribution

The Redwood City Catholic Worker makes a food run to the South San Francisco Produce terminal every Tuesday and Friday. We pick up about 10,000 pounds of free fresh produce every week.  Most of the food goes to Padua Dining Hall at St. Anthony’s Parish in Menlo Park. Some of the produce is used by other Catholic Worker houses in the area, and  on Friday some of the produce is also distributed at the Catholic Worker house.

Every  Friday,  hardworking volunteers come to the driveway of the Catholic Worker House (545 Cassia St. Redwood City)  to set up and clean and organize the produce that will be given away to all who come.  Jake Messina is the coordinator extrodinaire. You can ask him for help in English, Spanish, Italian, French  or probably any language you can speak. Jake will make sure you get some fresh produce. The produce is usually distributed around 11:00 am, but it’s best to come by around 10:30, because  sometimes the truck is early.

Sometimes we close around Christmas if Friday ends up being a day when the South San Francisco Produce market is closed. We put a sign up the weeks before telling people.

food progam set upThere are no requirements or ID needed to get food. It’s free to anyone who comes, just like communion at Sunday Mass.  If you drive, please don’t park in our neighbor’s parking lot, as Tacos el Grullense needs all their spaces for their customers.

Be sure to bring your own bags.