Rev. Al Tysick gathered his street family on Good Friday.
The homeless, the addicted, the lonely, the poor and the hungry came together in Centennial Square for their own special service and a celebration breakfast.
“Good Friday is really important because of the suffering,” said Tysick, director of The Dandelion Society. “I wanted to have a service for people who wouldn’t feel comfortable in church, but would feel comfortable in their own thing.”
The service was read aloud by members of the street community. The readings were about Christ healing the sick and curing the lame.
Christ walked the streets with his disciples, the street people of his day. He listened to them and he loved them to the end.
Many who gathered for this Good Friday breakfast can related to this crucified Christ, Tysick said.
“It’s about this group. Their experience is similar. These would have been the guys and girls hanging around him if he was here today.”
The service was unbelievable, Lionel Lanoie said.
Many reading the prayers were crying,” he said. “My ex-wife started to bawl when she started to read.”
“Nothing was going on today,” said Tysick. “Everything was closed.”
More than 100 people with weather-beaten faces and heavy packs lined up for the hot breakfast.
A man who identified himself as Space basked in the sunshine of the downtown square, pouring maple syrup over his pancakes.
“This is a festive day for us. It’s pretty exciting,” said Space, who sported blue bunny ears on his head.
He and his friend Mud Mouth live in Beacon Hill Park. They carry all their belongings on their backs.
“It looks amazing,” said Mud Mouth, biting into a cinnamon bun.
“It’s nostalgic to have a pancake breakfast on Good Friday. My family always had it.”
While Space worried about the nutritional content of the food, Mud Mouth got to work on his overflowing paper plate.
“It looks yummy and it’s the thought that counts. We definitely appreciate it.”
Volunteer Laura Morino brought danishes from the Dutch Bakery and cooked up dozens of scrambled eggs. She wasn’t on the front line of people serving the breakfast — but wished she could be.
“Everyone looks so happy. They look like they really appreciate it,” she said.
Jim Davies, who stays at the Salvation Army, said he came to the breakfast because he is a very spiritual man.
“When someone offers food, I eat it. That’s what Jesus told his disciples.”
Tysick invited people to nail their own burdens to a cross in the square.
“More than 30 people have died since the service last year,” he said.
“It’s a high number. I knew them all by name. They’re like my family. So this year has been an overwhelming year of deaths. It’s been a hard year for all of us.”
Then, looking around the square, at his humble, troubled flock eating food in the spring sunshine, he smiled again.
“It’s like having a big, family meal. It makes you feel pretty good that the family has gathered,” said Tysick.
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