A college student is serving the homeless during COVID-19 in New York, and he says that his faithful Catholic college is helping him “stay focused on God” through it all.
Philip Swanson is serving as a missionary this year at the St. Anthony Shelter for Renewal, a homeless shelter founded by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in The Bronx, N.Y. At the same time, he’s been taking online courses with Holy Apostles College and Seminary, which is recommended in The Newman Guide.
The Cardinal Newman Society is grateful to Swanson for sharing about the impact of his faithful Catholic education, as a part of our “Profiles in Faithful Catholic Education” series.
Newman Society: Why did you decide to attend Holy Apostles College and Seminary?
Philip Swanson: I decided to attend Holy Apostles due to the desire I have to receive an education from a university that I knew was orthodox in teaching and whose mission it was to present the goodness, truth and beauty of the Catholic Church in her entirety. I wanted to learn about God and be led to love Him more, from priests and professors who both know and love Him. I am currently studying theology and philosophy and I became a missionary with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in May of 2019 (two years after graduating from high school).
Newman Society: Can you tell us about the work you’re doing with the homeless during this COVID-19 crisis?
Philip Swanson: Since the COVID-19 outbreak, work at St. Anthony’s Shelter for Renewal has greatly increased. In a way, there is more interaction with the guests due to the stay-at-home order put in place by the state of New York, which is great as we have more time to pray with them and more opportunities to serve them. I’m involved with the food team which involves helping sort donations, helping prepare and cook the meals and helping at the food handout in which the missionaries and friars give food to the poor of the area. Despite all the extra work that has gone in since the outbreak and at times feeling a bit crammed into such a small space (and all that the other difficult things that go along with living in community), the friars, missionaries and shelter guests have certainly grown closer with one another and with Christ.
Newman Society: How has Holy Apostles impacted your life and the way you’re responding to the crisis?
Philip Swanson: Holy Apostles has impacted my life overall and especially during this virus in the sense that it truly allows me to always be focused on God. The nature of being at a great Catholic college and majoring in theology and philosophy allows for this; the more I learn in my classes and from classmates, the more I am able to take to prayer and better serve God and the men. While getting schoolwork done in the midst of the virus has been challenging at times, the professors at Holy Apostles have been extremely kind and understanding, and for that I am truly blessed.