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Habitat for Humanity dedicates another home in name of Pope Francis

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Xavier University President Rev. Michael Graham, S.J., gives the Closing Prayer during the Habitat for Humanity Pope Francis House Dedication Ceremony in Millvale Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Ebony Bureau, her children, Robert, 7, and Keiasa, 2, and her boyfriend, Robert Davis, III, will live in the house. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)
Xavier University President Rev. Michael Graham, S.J., gives the Closing Prayer during the Habitat for Humanity Pope Francis House Dedication Ceremony in Millvale Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Ebony Bureau, her children, Robert, 7, and Keiasa, 2, and her boyfriend, Robert Davis, III, will live in the house. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

Pope Francis has a house in Cincinnati.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati (HFHGC) dedicated the “Pope Francis House” on Hopple Court in Millvale Jan. 23.

The new home of the Bureau family was built to honor the pontiff. The project was funded with $60,000 in seed money from an anonymous donation matched by the Cincinnati Catholic community, including sponsorship from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and support from many parishes and individuals,” said Adena Warner, faith relations coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Cincinnati There were 568 volunteer contributors who provided 3,715 hours to complete the project.

“After months of hard work by many area Catholics and other generous people, we are delighted to see the Pope Francis House now become a home,” said Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr. “The archdiocese was honored to be a part of this Habitat for Humanity project, which received such great inspiration from Pope Francis’ example of love and humble service. I will continue to pray that the house will provide years of comfort and warm memories to the Bureau family building a life together under its roof.”

Ebony Bureau gives thanks during the Habitat for Humanity Pope Francis House Dedication Ceremony in Millvale Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Bureau, her children, Robert, 7, and Keiasa, 2, and her boyfriend, Robert Davis, III, will live in the house. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)
Ebony Bureau gives thanks during the Habitat for Humanity Pope Francis House Dedication Ceremony in Millvale Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Bureau, her children, Robert, 7, and Keiasa, 2, and her boyfriend, Robert Davis, III, will live in the house. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

Warner said the house was built as an embodiment of three tenets:

* To honor Pope Francis, for his commitment to social justice and reinvigorating the Catholic Church;

* To provide a unifying, celebratory opportunity for both Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers to work towards a common goal (as Pope Francis says, ‘Work confers dignity’);

* To further Habitat’s mission of building and preserving homes.

“The work of the Holy Spirit was clearly involved in so many aspects of the Pope Francis House’s construction,” said Tony Stieritz, director of the archdiocesan Catholic Social Action Office. “It was a wonderful opportunity for the archdiocese to deepen its relationship with Habitat for Humanity — an effective, respected, and environmentally friendly housing organization.  Secondly, dozens of local Catholics and other people of faith stepped forward during its six months of construction to add some elbow grease to the cause. Staff from the Central Offices, for example, even organized a couple of Fridays in September to swing their hammers. The idea of the Pope Francis House also inspired magnificent generosity from some financial contributors who wanted to see the project quickly come to fruition. And, most importantly, being a part of this effort gave the Archdiocese the chance accompany the Bureau family on their journey to this new home.”

HFHGC President/Chief Executive Officer Ed Lee said:  “We are beyond grateful for the support of the Archdiocese and entire Cincinnati community in helping us complete this special home. It stands as a physical incarnation of Pope Francis’ example of love, compassion and humanity. Our prayer is that it continues to bless the homeowner, Ebony Bureau, and her family in the spirit with which it was constructed.”

At the dedication, Jesuit Father Michael J. Graham, Xavier University president, offered the closing prayer and blessing at the invitation of the Xavier University Habitat Catholic Chapter. Students from the chapter volunteered and donated to the St. Francis House project. Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer offered the invocation and he spoke on behalf of the archdiocese sharing words about the importance of sponsorship of the archdiocese.

Ebony Bureau expressed her gratitude. She said her goals and dreams for her family are “to be the best we can be as a family. I would like to open my own daycare center one day and continue to raise my children up in the right direction.”

When asked how owning her own home will make a difference to her family, Bureau responded: “I have something that I can really call my own. My children don’t have to worry about moving around. They can have something they can call home for good.”

Bureau has two children: Robert,  seven, and Keiasa, two. She works for St. James Day Care on Cincinnati’s west side. The family attends Second Chance Ministry.

As faith relations coordinator for Habitat, Warner was involved in bringing in the archdiocese about a year ago. “We got word of an anonymous donation and we were told to engage the Catholic community. We thought the archdiocese would be potentially a great partner so we started asking around for connections and one of our board members is friends with Dan Andriacco” communications director for the archdiocese…. Dan made a phone call and put us in touch with Tony Stieritz.

Lee noted the donor “has done this 59 times across the United States. He has seeded money with Habitat affiliates to build houses, not necessarily for Catholics, but for low income families … and to use that as a means to penetrate the local Catholic community and to engage the Catholic community in service to Habitat in honor of the Pope.

The CEO said, “Habitat for Humanity is all about eliminating substandard housing and that is a global issue. We bring volunteers and other folks together to build houses and be in service to Christ to get folks into decent affordable housing who would not otherwise be able to do so. We target families who are in greater Cincinnati earning 30 to 80 percent of the area median income in real dollars.” Depending on family size, that ranges from an annual income in the upper teens and it goes up to probably close to $50,000 based on family size.  Bureau will assume a monthly mortgage payment of about $500.

“We are a Christian-based organization, but we are completely ecumenical and … completely nondiscriminatory. We operate in nine counties —Butler, Warren, Hamilton and Clermont counties in Ohio; Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Kentucky; Dearborn and Ohio counties in Indiana.

In its 30 year history, Habitat has assisted 550 families. To volunteer or make a donation, visit www.habitatcincinnati.org, or call  513-621-4147.

This article first appeared in the March 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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