April 2014 Redwood City Catholic Worker Newsletter

“God is light; there is no darkness
in God at all…” (1 John 1:5)

Dear Friends,

Alexandra was 13 years old when I first met her at Juvenile Hall. She was a straight A student and didn’t belong there. All day long she walked around the jail and cried because she too knew that this is not where she belonged. It’s always been extremely difficult to find foster homes for jailed teenagers.

Alexandra’s dad, an ophthalmologist, had brutally abused his daughter when she was very young, and then he committed suicide. Her mom was unable to care for her. Consequently, Alexandra came to the Catholic Worker House for troubled teens 39 years ago and was labeled an incorrigible.

Alexandra has been one of the 25 to 30 teens who has lived with us in the past and stayed connected to us because we became part of their emotional family. Over the decades, we’ve helped Alexandra get through high school & college, overcome eating disorders, survive some severe emotional ups and downs, and build a life & career as a single woman. She now tutors at risk teens in High School, and she really knows how to connect with their pain. Years ago we helped her buy a small house in Redding by matching her $7,000 down payment.

These days I am doing “Marriage Preparation” with Alexandra and her fiancée. This will be her first marriage and it is a tremendous achievement. I like to tell her, “You’ve come a long way baby!!!” The marriage will be a Catholic service at the Mission at Santa Clara University – her fiancée is a graduate of Santa Clara. The plan is for me to walk her down the aisle. As “father of the bride,” I assume there may be some hidden costs (a dress, the dinner, and renting the Mission).

One night at the Catholic Worker House, many, many years ago, Alexandra was in her bedroom, the lights out, and the door opened. I knew she was a very upset 14 year old. I said into the darkness, “You know, Alexandra, you’re very good at a lot of things.” She said, “Yeah, like what?” I responded, “You are the smartest 14 year old I have ever met, you can have intelligent and mature conversations with adults, and you are really kind to small children.” Out of her dark room, this little voice asked, “Larry can you tell me more things I’m good at?” I’ve been answering that last question for the past 39 years.

Our Catholic Worker Family would not be here if it weren’t for your help and God’s grace.

Happy Easter.
Peace and love,

Larry,  for all of us.

GOOD FRIDAY

The Pacific Life Community (a non-violent, direct action group that protests against nuclear weapons and war) will gather on Good Friday, April 18th at Lockheed from noon to 1:30pm. We’ll meet at the corner of N. Mathilda Ave. & 5th Ave. in Sunnyvale. For info call Susan or Larry (650) 366-4415.

NEEDS

1. FOOD in any amount, a gas barbecue, bikes, bike locks, sleeping bags, pillows, a handy man, etc. With two computer labs and computers for our teens we need more tech support. Call Susan at 366-4415.

2. A van or truck for Catholic Worker houses in San Jose and Oakland. Call Larry (650) 366-4415

3. Day Laborers need jobs. Call Cesar or Ramon at (650) 339-2794.

4. A house or money to buy a house to help new young Catholic Workers open a new Catholic Worker House. Call Larry for a free cup of coffee–(650) 366-4415.

5. Our English Language School needs teachers and our tutoring program needs tutors. The school also needs a vacuum cleaner and the construction of a raised garden bed about 12 feet by 3 feet. We also need 60 1 inch binders. Call Mary Jane (650) 366-8315.

6. Your ongoing love and support. Not only will I have expenses as “father of the Bride;” but Alberto, another teen at the Catholic Worker, is going to Jr. College next year and we will subsidize him $2,000 a year for two years. Myra, our newest teen, (a junior at Sequoia) will be going to her Junior Prom – very exciting!!!! And with a dress, dinner, tickets, pictures and transportation that gets pricey too.

“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.

Continue reading