For over 25 years we have served hot meals to the homeless gathered in the Civic Center, Santa Ana’s public square. During that time we have also invited women and children to stay in our home; currently over 50 adult women live and dine with us as guests. Many Catholics are unaware that our right to perform those Works of Mercy required by the Greatest Commandment has been abridged in the past and might well be again.
In 2003 the City of Santa Ana threatened to fine our landlord $1000 per day and arrest us for violating the “Mission Ordinance.” This ordinance made serving meals or offering lodging in one’s home illegal, except for profit as a business. We were cited first for offering bread to our neighbors, and for violating the Mission ordinance, and threatened with a year in jail if we failed to evict children and their parents from our home. We declined to do so, and only the intervention of Bishop Soto and a coalition of local pro bono attorneys gained for us an agreement for our continued operation. Continue reading