Monday, November 25, 2019

Amber Roseboom
Director of Media Relations
Catholic Diocese of Arlington

Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria Raised Awareness for Plight 
of the Homeless at Annual “Homeless for a Night Campout”

More than 50 Participants Joined in Seventh Consecutive Year, Despite Cold, Rainy Weather


ARLINGTON, Va. - On Saturday, November 23, Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va., staged its seventh consecutive “Homeless for a Night Campout.” The rainy weather did not stop the more than 50 participants who joined in the campout, at which they built their own cardboard shelters and ate and slept on the grounds of Good Shepherd Catholic Church. The evening was part of the parish's broad efforts to raise awareness of homelessness and the needs many people encounter when they lack stable housing. 

“The annual 'Homeless for a Night Campout' gives all parishioners, and especially our youth, an opportunity to be in solidarity with people who are homeless,” said Father Thomas Ferguson, Pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Church and Vicar General for the Diocese of Arlington. “Those who camp out literally feel the pain of a cold and damp dark night, and parishioners who see the camp on the way into church are moved to be ever more generous in providing food, clothing and shelter for those who are homeless in our community.”

In addition to sleeping in cardboard shelters, participants were given a presentation on the local Christ House ministry Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington offers in Alexandria. Christ House provides transitional housing, including counseling and job mentoring, for 14 homeless men, a food pantry, emergency financial assistance, a clothing ministry and thrift store, and, with the help of scores of parishes and community groups, a nightly evening meal that has served the local homeless population every night since 1974.

Good Shepherd Catholic Church volunteers with Christ House prepared an evening meal similar to those served at Christ House for all “Homeless for a Night Campout” participants. The parish also collected socks for the local hypothermia shelter at Rising Hope United Methodist Church and fresh oranges and apples to be distributed through Catholic Charities' St. Lucy Project.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on any given night last year, “roughly 553,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States” (2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, USHUD). In Virginia alone, that number was 5,975.

Pictured are participants making their cardboard shelters in which they will sleep. Suggested caption: “Homeless for a Night campout participants create cardboard shelters which they sleep in through the night.” 

For additional information on Good Shepherd Catholic Church and their work in the community, visit here

# # #

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington was established on August 13, 1974, and is home to 71 parishes and more than 460,000 Catholics. There are currently 276 priests serving in the Diocese and 45 seminarians discerning a priestly vocation. The Diocese has 37 parish (K-8) schools, four diocesan high schools, four independent Catholic schools and five free-standing (not connected with a parish school) pre-schools, serving more than 17,000 students. 

The Diocese includes the seven cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester and the 21 counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, King George, Lancaster, Loudoun, Madison, Northumberland, Orange, Page, Prince William, Rappahannock, Richmond, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren and Westmoreland.