By Anabel Stickney
A small group of students gathered on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in the St. Leo’s room for a talk titled “How to See Christ in the Poor,” presented by Brookelynne Schnurpel, a missionary from Gift of Mary and a recent theology graduate of Franciscan.
Gift of Mary is a full-time women’s shelter in Pittsburgh where they help care for abused women, provide a place for them to heal and evangelize to them.
Santonio Hill, director of Gift of Mary, started the night by introducing Schnurpel, who led an opening prayer and shared her background.
She told the audience how she was raised in a non-Catholic household and fostered a deep love for space and the universe, but still felt that without faith, she was missing something.
“It left me really unsatisfied. I always had that ache,” she said. “I was really aware of this lack in my life.”
After a profound experience at Eucharistic Adoration, her heart was converted to Catholicism. Now, her love for Christ is manifested in her work as a missionary.
“I’m a missionary entirely because of divine providence. All I want to do … is pray and be with the poor.” Schnurpel says.
After sharing her personal story, Schnurpel began to discuss the topic of seeing Christ in the poor.
She shared, “[God] communicates and reveals himself in the small [things]. God is poor … He could do infinitely great things … but he chooses to do small things. He wants to do small things … Poverty has immense value [to God].”
Schnurpel referenced 1 Kings in which God reveals himself in a still small voice. He could present himself in wind, fire, and earthquakes, but instead He reveals Himself in little things.
“He parted the Red Sea once, but he comes to us in the Eucharist every day. Once you see Christ in the Eucharist, you can see Him in the poor,” she said.
Schnurpel continued, “Poverty, I think, is God’s greatest miracle … We see God in the poor, because God is poverty. God was poor first.
She told the stories of their lives and how through their poverty and struggles, they are Jesus. At their lowest, the missionaries serve them as they would serve Jesus.
Schnurpel shared the story of one woman who frequents the shelter and has suffered much in her life, saying, “She was born into poverty, and she will probably die in poverty … God loves poverty, so He dwells within her … God is in the empty. God is in the gross. God is in the unimportant. He loves being poor.”
She urged her listeners to understand that they do not always need to find solutions for the homeless and impoverished. They just need to meet these people where they are at and serve them. Catholics are simply called to love.
Schnurpel left the audience with these final thoughts and concluded, “That is how you see Christ in the poor. You don’t see them as a problem to be solved but as Jesus.”