LAMP is getting big press coverage in Italy! We were so surprised to see this – we had never met or spoken with this reporter, and we had no idea a piece was coming. Somehow, the reporter did her research and came up with gold! Radio Maria Italy picked it up too!
Thanks to Google for the base translation, and to S.S. for helping us to refine the translation. Mistakes in content are noted in red. We are amazed that there are so few since we never spoke with the reporter!
LAMP: a family serving the poor in New York
August 16, 2017
Maddalena Maltese (from New York)
(Lede) The story of the Scheuring couple: of 36 years “with the poor” in New York. Nothing is done “for” the least of these, but they are “with” them: on the street, in the hospital, in the nursing home, while recovering from the hell of alcohol and drugs, and in misery.
Tom and Lynn (sic: Lyn) Scheuring have hair streaked with gray and white stripes. But their hair was black and blonde in 1981 when they both decided to found LAMP (Lay Apostolic Ministries with the Poor) which for 36 years has been a light of hope and of the opportunity for rebirth in New York.
To be “with the poor” is the magna carta of LAMP because in their charitable organization nothing is done “for” the least of these, but they are “with” them: on the street, in the hospital, in the nursing home, while recovering from the hell of alcohol and drugs, and in misery.
LAMP volunteers know every inch of these dark places, and are there to share the light of faith by providing food, medical care, or accompaniment and prayer. It is prayer that is key to arriving at a person’s heart. “In our long experience,” Lynn Scheuring explains, “we have realized that there are many sources for material help but few to support faith. But faith is everything, because meeting with God is the source of total well-being for a person. If a person experiences love, his life is radically changed. “
That’s what happened to Marco, who did not dare to approach the LAMPCafé, a silver-colored truck that distributes food in some of the most impoverished parishes in the city. Marco smelled the food, but he did not dare to approach even though he was crying from hunger. A volunteer approached him offering him food, and after his hunger was placated, the volunteer offered to pray with him.
No one had ever offered to pray with him: he was a slave of alcohol, and he did not think he was entitled to the sacred, or to kindness, or to love. But those prayers were the first small step in his change.
A similar story could be told for Dolores, reduced to a wheelchair in a poor nursing home and consumed by hatred for her husband, or for Lilian who lived in a shelter for the homeless: the meeting with LAMP missionaries gave meaning to their existence and restored their newness of life.
In New York City, there are more than 14,000 homeless families and 23,000 homeless children. Tom and Lynn started their work with them, helping Dorothy Day, the Catholic activist who lived in Greenwich Village and had opened a house of hospitality.
“When she met the poor and answered their questions,” Lynn explains, “her answers were just the Gospel. She did not argue with anyone, but she responded with words from John, Luke, and Mark.” “We wanted to be lay missionaries and felt like an imperative this call to serve the least of these, but we did not know how to answer this call and we so were looking for tools and formation,” continues Tom. And so, married for a few years and with three young children, they took the 60 hour bus trip from New York to El Paso in Texas, to participate in the mission of a Jesuit priest.
From there they moved to Mexico City and then back to Texas, at St. Anthony parish. There they had the idea of writing to New York’s Cardinal Cook. They would propose themselves as missionaries serving in the poorest parishes of the city. On February 25, (actually March 25 – feast of the Annunciation) 1981, the Cardinal’s blessing arrived and LAMP received it’s official “baptism.” Still, Lynn and Tom had no home for their three children nor a job that could support them. Then on May 1st of the same year, Mike Burke, an elderly shopkeeper in the Riverdale area of the Bronx, decided to offer them a free apartment for a year, as long as they paid the utilities. That 36-year-old apartment is still LAMP’s official home (actually we moved to our current, much larger center in 1982) and a crowd of people comes every day bringing food to be distributed to the poor.
There are two other residences, one for women missionaries and one for men missionaries. These missionaries are people who choose to offer at least a year of their lives to the service of the least of these. In these houses they receive the spiritual formation and also the training needed to reach those who live in the street.
Prayer and Eucharistic adoration are the cornerstones of a missionary’s day, while once a week they meet together to share testimonies and experiences.
They are joined by volunteers who can only offer to serve one day a week or a month. In 2014, also in the Bronx, LAMP launched a new project: “A LAMP for Life”. Realizing that 94% of pro-abortion centers are located in poor neighborhoods, the Scheuring family (LAMP Ministries) offers spiritual support through its missionaries, as well as the possibility of (connecting people with) clinical examinations that can help vulnerable women make the choice of life. There are more than a few women who, after meeting with the missionaries, decide to keep their babies. “We do not judge them or impose on them. We only offer them another possibility to help them: prayer and the Gospel.”
From AgenSIR, the Italian Religious Information Service, (R)