In the heart of a city becoming as well known for the size of its homeless population as it is for its golden-hued bridge, about 200 people gathered at St. Patrick Church Nov. 8 to pray for the eternal rest of the human lives ended unceremoniously on the streets of San Francisco.

Students from Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory High School, ICA Cristo Rey, St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School and Archbishop Riordan High School flanked the doors and walked the aisles of the Mission Street church handing out programs and “Our Lady of the Streets” holy cards in advance of the archdiocese’s Requiem Mass of the Dead for Homeless Brethren.

The Mass was organized by the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Office of Human Life and Dignity and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone presided.

“The Catholic Church believes one of the greatest acts of charity we can perform is to pray for the eternal salvation of those who have gone before us,” said Martin Ford, social action coordinator for the office and organizer of the first-time Mass.

Joining the archbishop on the altar were seven priests and two deacons including St. Patrick pastor Father Roberto Andrey, Mission Dolores Basilica pastor Father Francis Garbo; Star of the Sea Parish pastor Father Joseph Illo; rector of the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi Capuchin Father John De La Riva; retired St. Matthew pastor Father Anthony Maguire; archdiocesan vicar of administration and moderator of the curia Jesuit Father John Piderit and Father Patrick Summerhays, the archbishop’s priest-secretary. Deacons Ed Te and Ferdinand Mariano assisted.

There are some 2,100 chronically-homeless people on the streets of San Francisco, although total homeless including families or individuals living in cars, tents or parks is estimated to be as high as 7,500, organizers said, citing a 2017 homeless census and survey. Mortality is four to nine times higher among chronically homeless people whose life expectancy is 25 years shorter than among the general population.

Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by St. Teresa of Kolkata to serve “the poorest of the poor,” led song with the Benedict XVI Institute choir.

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.