Holy Angels Reunion, Anniversary

A great reunion turned into an even greater fund raiser for Holy Angels Shelter in East St. Louis.

Holy Angels Parish closed in 1982, and the convent was reopened as Holy Angels Shelter in 1985 under the auspices of Catholic Urban Programs (CUP), a diocesan outreach agency in southern Illinois.

Catholic Urban Programs (CUP) invited everyone from any of the 13 parishes that were at one time open in East St. Louis to come to a reunion and a celebration of the shelter’s 30th anniversary.

The result was “great,” according to CUP executive director, Gerry Hasenstab.

More than 250 people attended the event and about $50,000 was raised for the shelter.

This will go a long way in closing the budget gap,” Hasenstab said. “The state owes us $79,000” for program and operating costs, and without a state budget, many agencies are struggling to continue their ministry.

Members of the original committee that crafted what would become the shelter, spoke of the need and the importance of the shelter’s work.

St. Clair County Judge Andrew Gleeson spoke of growing up as a member of Holy Angels Parish, and its role as an important hub in the lives of its parishioners.

Judge Gleeson and others have turned their fond memories of Holy Angels Parish into strong support for Holy Angels Shelter.

A 1974 graduate of Holy Angels School, Gleeson said: “what you have done and contributed have allowed it to continue. The parish was our life, and today the mission continues; what they do with so little and what they accomplish is amazing.”

Hasenstab thanked the people for their support of the shelter, knowing without that support the shelter would not be viable, especially in today’s world.

Judge Milton Wharton, who grew up as a black Catholic in East St. Louis, said he made a number of telephone calls to Joe Hubbard, retired CUP director, to help people in need.

“Joe never said ‘no’ when I requested help,” Judge Wharton said. “Joe has never judged anyone.”

Hubbard, also a member of Holy Angels Parish, thanked everyone, noting the shelter “has had some really rough spots over its 30 years,” and he encouraged everyone to “tell people of the good news of Holy Angels,” and asked people to “continue to pray for Holy Angels Shelter.”

Founding shelter director Patricia Lewis said the shelter is “more than a place to stay, it was a way for people to revive their spirit when they were in dire need of help.”

Paulynn Snyder, social service coordinator at the shelter, said those who work at the shelter “are about God’s work. We don’t need a new spirit; the shelter staff keeps that spirit alive, and the residents also keep the shelter alive and well.”

Homeless people come to the shelter to find a way to a home. “The homeless have taught us to be hopeful,” she said.

To find out more about the shelter or to make a donation, please contact CUP at 618-398-5616 or send checks to Holy Angels Shelter at CUP, P.O. Box 3310, East St. Louis, IL 62203.