Grief over the death of a homeless day worker in Palisades Park continues to rock the community. The pastor of St. Michael’s Catholic Church and his congregation had graciously allowed some workers to sleep there on bitterly cold nights, and one morning a young man was found dead. So far we have not seen an official statement of cause of death but it seems obvious no foul play was involved.
Several people have written Letters to the Editor of the RECORD calling the communities’ attention to this totally unnecessary waste of a life. (See below for copies of the letters.) Paulina Banasiak of Wallington writes about a comment by the borough administrator that the men may be potential ‘ax murderers’: “Instead of attempting to work together with the church to address the problem, he is criticizing what the Catholic faith tells us to do…. I commend the Rev. Minhyun Cho for doing the right thing and being an example for the Catholic Church, its parishioners, and the community at large.”
Another letter is by CoFiA member Dorothy Cox: “I would like to commend the Rev. Minhyun Cho and the congregation of St. Michael’s Church in Palisades Park….Father Cho reached out from his faith-based beliefs and acted in accord with the teachings of Jesus….I hope that borough officials will work with Father Cho and not put up obstacles that will be too hard to overcome so that St. Michael’s can continue the social action work the church believes in.”
As of Monday, December 19, 2016, the church is not being allowed to take the workers in. We don’t know how they are surviving–or if they are surviving. Several men participated in our lunch program today and we were all glad that they were able to be with us even if only for a little while, and be warm, fed, and welcomed.
Many people have asked how they can help. Access to local shelter, information about rooms and apartments they can rent, money to buy tickets to return to their home country if they choose that route are all immediate needs. In addition, more Letters to the Editor (LettersToTheEditor@northjersey.com) that will help the community have a better understanding of why people are homeless and what we can all do to resolve the problem would be good.
CoFiA is honored to have the opportunity to work with Father Cho and his congregation, and we are all praying that a solution for this difficult but really very simple problem will soon be found.