It’s been 10 years since scores of homeless people set up a community called Sanctuary City on the edge of downtown Springfield.
The group lived in tents, first on the lawn of St. Michael’s Cathedral then, later, on a lot further up State Street owned by Open Pantry Community Services. Many came because they said they didn’t feel comfortable or safe at the city’s main shelter on Worthington Street. Over the roughly five months the encampment was operating, residents lived under a set of rules intended to reduce problematic behaviors, like violence and drug use, and build a sense of security and community among those staying there. The camp broke up in late fall, as winter weather set in.
Tomorrow, May 13, Arise for Social Justice, which helped organize Sanctuary City, will mark its 10th anniversary by gathering outside St. Michael’s at 12:45 p.m. Arise is calling for “all former residents of Sanctuary City, all who are living in shelters, all who are still on the street, everyone turned away from shelter, everyone who needs a place to call their own, [and] all allies” to attend.
“On Holy Thursday Pope Francis said the church is ‘a house with open doors, a refuge for sinners, a home for people living on the streets, a place of loving care for the sick, a camp for the young,’” Arise says in its announcement of the event. “Enough is enough. When will there be a place for all of us?”