Capuchins in Detroit forced to cope without power for nearly a week

Capuchin Soup Kitchen has no power to feed homeless

By Rod Meloni - Reporter, CFP ® , Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - The Capuchin friars pledge to lead lives of extreme austerity, simplicity, service and poverty. For some of them, the pledge has also included living without power for the last six days.

Last week's historic windstorm has left the friars without power as they keep serving Detroit's homeless.

Solanus Casey, a friar, and the Capuchins have long made a huge different at St. Benedict's Monastery. Fathers and brothers still live there. Around the corner, they have the soup kitchen, but for the last week, there has been no power.

The friars hear confessions in parkas while drinking coffee, and flashlights line the darkened hallway stairs. The monks' rooms are a chilly 38 degrees.

They have natural gas in the industrial kitchen, which keep the temperature there at what seems like a toasty 60 degrees. The room has become the gathering spot.

Patrick McSherry, a friar, said the friars have sent the older members of the order away.

"Just recently we told them they had to get out of the house," McSherry said. "It was a health hazard."

There's something else missing from Meldrum Street: the homeless. The Capuchin Soup Kitchen, which normally serves at least 800 people a day, is closed.

"It deprives people of a decent meal," McSherry said.

Marshall Johnson is a client who showed up hoping to get lunch on Tuesday. But the walk-in fridge is out because it's 50 degrees inside. All the perishable food is rotting and will have to be thrown away.

Center Director the Rev. David Preuss said he understands DTE Energy is doing what it can but added, "Seven full days without power is deeply disappointing and dangerous."

"We're afraid they're just going hungry when something like this happens because any problem they have quickly becomes a crisis," Preuss said. "We've got to keep the faith. Things are going to work out, you know, and things are going to be back on."

Several tree-clearing crews and a DTE truck showed up at the center, but there's still no power.

DTE told Local 4 the soup kitchen situation is so severe it is going to take 12 hours to fix. They expect to have power there by Tuesday night.

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