By Grace Ostuni
There are people who believe Franciscan University is in a bubble. They believe that the school stands on the top of the hill and separates itself from the community down below.
Whether or not this is true, everyone has heard this idea and formed their own reactions to it.
Shawn Lunde, one of the Works of Mercy Coordinators, has decided to break this bubble and reach out to the community.
“I just have such a deep draw to be with the poor,” said Lunde.
Lunde heads the St. Anthony Mission House, living there with three other men. Those on Fifth Street have begun to know these four men well, often visiting them once or twice a week for the past year when the mission opened.
“I think God wants this mission house to be … like a bridge that’s being concretely formed between the hill and the rest of Steubenville. This is popping the bubble … and it’s so vital,” said Lunde.
The T.O.R. sisters gifted the house to Steubenville last February, hoping the school could use it for ministry. It is now a place where those living in the community – both children and adults – can come, have a cup of coffee, talk and play games.
“To be able to evangelize, but also to love people, and just hang out with the poor, it’s just so awesome,” said Lunde.
The Mission House was named after St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things as well as preaching.
“We want to find the lost souls … the people that are disregarded,” said Lunde. “There is an invitation and almost an obligation that we have to actually go out and love these people.”
Since its opening, the Mission House has gathered a community with people who regularly come back to spend time with these Franciscan students. Lunde shared some of the beautiful stories he has witnessed firsthand because of the work being done there.
“One time we said we’d pray for specific names and descriptions of people that we want to encounter on the streets. One of those was a man named Jason. That day we encountered a man named Jason,” Lunde said.
A few weeks later, another Jason stopped by the Mission House. He is now in the process of becoming Catholic after regularly coming to the Mission House and experiencing the joy radiating from the Franciscan students.
“They’re so hungry for love. They’re so hungry for the Gospel,” said Lunde.
Franciscan University has shuttles to take volunteers to the Mission House on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons throughout the year. Lunde shared that they need more volunteers, even for only a half hour.