NEW BEDFORD — Outreach to the homeless in the Fall River Diocese took a step forward as the re-located and expanded Sister Rose House opened its doors in mid-April to provide shelter and support for homeless men in the Greater New Bedford area.
A ministry of Catholic Social Services, the handicap-accessible shelter offers 25 beds for men on the main floor and a job training center and commercial grade kitchen on the lower level. It also has an area outside for seating in nice weather, four private showers, and a washer and dryer. During frigid weather, lower level space will serve as an emergency overflow shelter for the city.
The facility is located in the former St. Hedwig Church on Division Street in New Bedford’s South End. Once the parish church for Polish-speaking Catholics living in that part of the city, and later for members of the Hispanic Community as well, it has been converted to serve the community in a different way. Its former rectory, located next door, opened last year as Grace House, an 11-bed homeless shelter for women.
The Sr. Rose House will eventually include a soup kitchen working out of the building’s downstairs kitchen and adjoining training/ education center. Catholic Social Services Director Arlene McNamee explained that it will serve as a learning tool where persons will be taught how to cook, how to put out food, and how to serve people to open up possible avenues for future employment. The center will also offer GED training, tutoring, personal care guidance and other programs. Outside of the building, there will be a community garden where food will be grown by residents for use in the soup kitchen and where neighbors will have an opportunity to plant and grow what they’d like.
This expansion of Catholic Social Services builds on the decades-long work of Sister of Mercy Rosellen Gallogly who founded Market Ministries, Inc., in 1982 to address the needs of the homeless in New Bedford. Better known simply as Sister Rose, she guided and expanded the ministry for almost 30 years until it became part of Catholic Social Services in 2010. It was then decided to re-name the shelter, then located in the city’s downtown, in her honor.
Sister Rose was present in February of this year as Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., blessed the new, bigger homeless shelter bearing her name as finishing touches were wrapping up on the building.
Nearly two-years in the making, the Sister Rose House was made possible thanks to the work of many including Action for Community Housing or CABH, an arm of Catholic Social Services, which works to acquire funding for such projects through local and state sources; a Community Development Block Grant from the City of New Bedford; and private funding from a number of individual donors.
Catholic Social Services is a Catholic Charities Appeal-funded ministry.