Our Lady of the Angels ChristNet
What is the ChristNet Rotating Shelter Program?
The ChristNet Rotating Shelter Program is an interfaith, community-based effort to provide temporary overnight shelter to homeless men,
women, and children. It started as a dream of a few individuals in the summer of 1992. A pilot project involving eight Taylor
churches was organized for a trial run in January and February of 1993. In the 20 plus years since the inception of ChristNet,
the number of participating churches has grown to over 50, allowing the program to provide approximately 35 weeks of overnight
shelter to those in need from October into June.
Where is the shelter located?
ChristNet does not have any single location. Instead, it is hosted on a rotating basis, one week at a time,
by various churches and community organizations throughout the downriver and western Wayne County suburbs.
Each church hosts our guests for seven nights, from Sunday evening through the following Sunday morning.
Guests are driven away from the host church each morning and return each evening via the ChristNet van.
Although the physical location of the shelter changes from week to week, a central intake has been designated
for those seeking nightly shelter. This gathering spot, where guests are screened remains the same throughout
the warming season. Transportation is provided from this site to the host church on a nightly basis.
What services are offered by ChristNet?
Those staying overnight are offered a warm, clean place to stay, an evening meal, breakfast, and a bag lunch to go.
Bedding consists of a mattress, pillow, sheets and pillowcase, and blankets. Personal care items such as a razor and shaving cream,
soap, shampoo, toothbrush and tooth paste, etc. are offered. Some churches provide clothing.
Shower facilities are made available on selected nights throughout the week.
How is Our Lady of the Angels Involved?
Once a year, generally the second week in January, Our Lady of the Angels acts as the host church for the ChristNet
group of homeless people. Because our involvement in the program has spanned over 20 years, the undertaking operates
like a well-oiled machine. That statement in no way minimizes the amount of dedication and hours devoted to the mission.
Just a few of our volunteers
|Men’s sleeping area
||Women’s sleeping area
Our project usually starts with a brief meeting of the ChristNet Committee in September. Committee members are expected
to attend and anyone else interested in becoming involved in the project is welcome. Those accountable for each area of
responsibility bring up successes from the previous year and anticipated changes for the upcoming year.
Areas of responsibility include:
New in 2015 –
- Setup and Teardown – The parish center is converted to house 30 men and women for the week.
Separate areas are prepared for dining, men’s sleeping quarters, women’s sleeping quarters, clothing distribution, etc.
Parishioners and service groups such as local Boy Scout troops assist with the setup and teardown.
- Meal Planning – Breakfast and Dinner - Our ChristNet guests are served breakfast and dinner in the parish
center every day. Meals are prepared and donated by parish groups or organizations, or by parish families.
Because we have such wonderful chefs within our parish, the only complaint we’ll usually receive from our guests at
the end of the week is that their waistlines have increased during their stay with us.
This year, after one of our committee members viewed a video on the internet where homeless people
were served a sit-down dinner in an elegant atmosphere, we decided to try to offer our guests a similar experience.
Saturday evening, their last night with us, our guests were served a sit-down dinner of roast beef and turkey.
The tables were set with linens, and fine dinnerware. Fresh roses adorned each table. Our youth group served as waiters.
The experience was as rewarding for the volunteers as it was enjoyable for our guests. The best thank you we could have received
came when one of our female guests told us that for the first time in a long time, we made her feel like a real person,
a person who belonged.
New in 2015 - a fine dining experience
- Meal Planning - Lunches – Each guest is offered a bag lunch when they leave our center every morning.
These lunches contain sandwiches, fruit, snacks and a drink. Thirty lunches are generally needed for each day.
Parishioners are asked to volunteer to make five lunches on selected days throughout the week.
- Kitchen Supplies – In addition to providing meals for our guests, we like to make sure that fruit and snacks,
along with soft drinks and hot beverages are also available. Our committee members ensure that these items,
all paper products, and any condiments needed are on hand for the week.
- Clothing and Personal Supplies - Gently-used shoes, boots and clothing – all donated by our parishioners –
are always appreciated by our guests. On occasion, when we have a guest who has special needs such as special sizes,
our ChristNet committee members will use donated funds, and will comb the local thrift stores to meet the needs
of those guests. Donated funds may also be used to purchase socks, underwear and personal grooming supplies for all of our guests.
- Showers and Haircuts – Our guests are offered showers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights.
Parish volunteers escort the guests from the parish center to the showers in the parish office area,
and back to the parish center. Committee members stand watch to ensure that showers are limited to a reasonable amount of
time so we can provide hot water for all. Talented parish stylists volunteer to cut hair and trim beards after showers on
Monday and Wednesday nights.
- Laundry – When 30 people take showers on one night a lot of towels can pile up. Towels are also available for our guests
who wish to wash up on non-shower days. If laundry facilities are not available to our guests at the central intake center,
we also wash the guests’ clothing on selected nights. Our committee members are always looking for parishioners to help
with the laundry responsibilities throughout the week.
- Entertainment/Activities – In an effort to make their time with us as pleasant as possible we try to provide a variety of
activities for our guests throughout the week. The performance given by our own parish choir always ranks among the favorites.
Bingo night and movie night are also found to be very popular.
- Chaperones – One of the most difficult positions for us to fill during our ChristNet week is that of the overnight
chaperones. We like to have two men and two women chaperone our guests every night – so every year we ask for a total
of 14 men and 14 women to volunteer to give up a night’s sleep to ensure that our guests are warm and safe.
We have been blessed to have our seasoned veterans whom we can count on every year to volunteer, and those special people
who consistently volunteer for more than one night, but we will always welcome newcomers with open arms.
Our parishioners know that our ChristNet week is approaching when they see the ChristNet committee members standing in the
narthex of the church after masses for a couple of weeks in October. The committee solicits volunteers to sign up to be an
overnight chaperone, to make five lunches for a selected day or to help with laundry responsibilities. Those wishing to donate
items to help the cause will have their choice of dozens and dozens of items needed - catsup, cookies, cleaning supplies and more.
Postcards are mailed to the parishioners a week or two prior to the start of ChristNet as a reminder of the promised donation.
ChristNet at Our Lady of the Angels operates like a well-oiled machine. But it takes over 200 people putting in a total of
1500 – 2000 hours each year to make that machine run. In addition, dozens and dozens of donations from our parishioners help
fuel that machine.
How can you learn more about ChristNet at Our Lady of the Angels?
If you would like more information on ChristNet at Our Lady of the Angels please contact our ChristNet coordinators,
John and Stella Mosella.
Additional pictures of ChristNet at Our Lady of the Angels can be found by accessing the Parish Photo Gallery, located
How can you learn more about the entire ChristNet Services organization?
If you would like more information on the ChristNet Services organization, or how you can make a donation to the cause,
please visit the website: ChristNet Services
ChristNet can also be found on Facebook with the following link:
ChristNet Facebook Page
The News Herald published an article on homelessness in the downriver area. ChristNet Services was included in the article.
Access the article with the following link:
News Herald Article
The News Herald also published an article about how you can help the homeless.
Access the article here:
News Herald Article