by Jordan Schiele, Jerusalem Farm Community Member
“Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good. Let us suppose that, in addition, they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one” (Pope Paul iv, On Evangelization in the Modern World, 1975).
When individuals come to visit Jerusalem Farm to learn about our way of life, I share these words with them before beginning the tour. At Jerusalem Farm it is not so much the large programs of outreach (although we certainly are busy with that) which stand out to those who experience life here, but it is how we live day to day. How do we proclaim our faith in the nitty-gritty of everyday living? Our four guiding cornerstones of prayer, community, service, and simplicity combined with the principles of Catholic social teaching make up our charism.
Currently our community is made up of four adults and two children. We live in a former convent near downtown Kansas City in the Pendleton Heights neighborhood. We live in community and throughout the week pray together, share meals with one another, and work together towards a common goal. We operate an urban farm on our property consisting of a garden, chickens, fruit trees, and honeybees. We are a full time community of volunteers and are constantly finding ways to address the needs of our neighbors. Our main day-to-day work includes home repair for individuals and families on fixed incomes who are unable to do the work themselves or hire contractors to make their homes safe healthy.
We have also started a curbside compost program in order to bring awareness about our responsibility to care for creation and also to create compost for our gardens. Once a week, we travel around our neighborhood on bicycles with bike trailers and collect 5 gallon buckets filled with food waste. Thus far we have over 40 participants and have diverted over 3 tons of food scraps from the land-fill.
Fourteen weeks out of the year we host mainly college or high-school students for week-long retreats. During these retreats, participants serve in the larger community with us and also spend time learning about issues of social justice, as well as contemplate God’s presence in their life and the world around them. Throughout the year we host over 250 individuals.
Thanks to the Precious Blood community and their support, we at Jerusalem Farm will continue to be a place of peace for those in need located around our neighborhood. We will continue serving the poor and vulnerable in our neighborhood while also empowering and encouraging the youth to view their day-to-day actions as a proclamation of faith.
Jerusalem Farm received a grant from the Kansas City Province Human Development Fund this summer.