Project PLASE will be a good neighbor

As a retired state parole and probation agent I remember the neighborhood concerns when my agency opened new offices. To some extent these concerns were valid because there was genuine uncertainty about how day to day life might change. Not so for Project PLASE which has an established 38-year track record as a good neighbor in central Baltimore City.

As a member of St. Joseph's Monastery Parish, I attended the Dec. 17 meeting when people of all persuasions voiced their views (Project PLASE tries to quell neighborhood fears in S.W. Baltimore," Dec. 28). One concern expressed by an opponent was, "What are you going to do for us?" The answer is that the Passionist Fathers will extend their record of social outreach to people of all faiths in the future as they do currently.

A recent Angel Tree program (providing gifts of $25 to children whose parents are incarcerated) had 624 neighborhood participants. Each week parishioners prepare 100 sandwiches for the visitors to My Brother's Keeper in Irvington. All our Irvington neighbors are invited to our annual Thanksgiving meal and Christmas Eve Dinner. There is no charge.

For Irvington children there is the two week free summer camp, "St. Joseph's Kids for Jesus," the Easter Egg Hunt, and the Halloween party. Historically, virtually all the participants are not members of our parish.

Our pastor, Father Bill Murphy, routinely answers the call of the two Irvington cemeteries when asked to preside at the graveside service of someone he may never have met.

So, providing convalescent and permanent housing in Irvington is just an extension of what the parish has long been doing.

Upkeep on the large abandoned school building over 18 months has been enormous. A city parish like ours cannot continue to sustain such an expense. With no one else interested in its purchase but Project PLASE, we have no other options in sight. Either the Passionists will broaden their outreach to the convalescent and homeless, or the proud structure where we have worshiped for 150 years will become the second abandoned building.

Tim McCarthy, Baltimore

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