By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Following the ground blessing of a new Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville home May 30, Father John Schork, superior of the Sacred Heart Passionist Community, proudly showed off the 40-year-old hammer with which he’d been pounding nails into the walls of the house on Hazelwood Court.
The house, named “Wake Up the World,” is sponsored by the 24 religious communities serving in the Archdiocese of Louisville in observance of the Year of Consecrated Life. Pope Francis declared in 2013 that a Year of Consecrated Life would be celebrated around the world starting on Nov. 30, 2014, the first Sunday of Advent, and ending on World Day for Consecrated Life, Feb. 2, 2016.
“Wake Up the World” is the slogan for the Year of Consecrated Life. During this special year religious communities are involved in service projects and prayer services and are encouraged to share their lifestyles and vocation stories with the wider community.
“One of the things that the pope asked during this Year of Consecrated Life is that religious across the world have a summer of service where they work side by side with their colleagues,” said Ursuline Sister Janet Marie Peterworth during the ceremony.
“From Rome to Louisville here on Hazelwood Court, we’ve seen the ripple effect,” she said.
During the ceremony on May 30, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and Mustafa Mohamed of the Guiding Light Islamic Center prayed for blessings on the house which will soon be home to Bisharo Hussein, a Somali mother of eight.
Sister Peterworth and Father Schork were among dozens of religious who attended the blessing.
Seventeen religious communities with a presence here in the Archdiocese of Louisville raised more than $45,000 to fund the Habitat house, said Sister Peterworth, who coordinated fundraising.
“This is a good thing and I hope it continues,” said Father Schork of the communities’ efforts to work together. “It’s been a great opportunity of service to help other people.”
He noted that every work day has begun with prayer, and he said the experience has been about more than just hard work. It’s been a “spiritual experience” as well, he said.
Father Schork noted with a laugh that using the old hammer — given to him as a gift by a Franciscan brother in 1975 — to help build a home for a family is pretty special.
The construction of a house is a new and exciting undertaking for many of the participants.
“I learned how to hang a door,” said Benedictine Sister Paula Wolff with a proud smile. “It’s wonderful that the pope called for this year.”
“It’s a way to recognize that we all have different ways of life, but that we can work together to help people,” she noted.
Father Schork and Sister Wolff were two of many in the religious communities who worked during the “raise the roof” days May 28 to May 30, the three-day period when volunteers placed walls and roof on the house.
According to Sister Nancy Gerth, a Sister of Charity of Nazareth who has been involved with the project since the beginning, 200 volunteers — sisters, brothers, religious order priests and some lay people with ties to the religious communities — will build the house.
Groups of 12 volunteers will work each Saturday of June, July and August. Sister Gerth said the projected completion date is Aug. 29, providing there isn’t any bad weather to slow it down.
Members of the religious communities also are collaborating on the project by providing food for volunteers during the build. Those who are too ill or elderly to help are sending good wishes to the homeowner by writing blessings and messages on boards that will be used to build the house.
Sister Gerth said the project exemplifies Pope Francis’ call to people in religious life to be “architects of the plan for unity.”
“Working on this plan has inspired unity and unleashed a contagious passion,” she said. “How can we not embrace the future with hope?”