The O.G. (Original Giver)

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Father John McShane early in my blog.  He is the Original Giver of G Street and an  inspiration to everyone there.

Father McShane is a long-time friend of my family.  I met him in 2002 when I first moved to Las Vegas but I hadn’t seen him in years.  I was a teenager then, so I didn’t really have a chance to build a friendship with him until I started volunteering with the homeless.

Father McShane is seventy-five years old and never wears a coat. He must be heated by the light of Christ because no matter how cold, windy or rainy it is, the man is always wearing short sleeves. The rumor is that Father McShane gives his coats away. I believe it.

He has spent most of his career in Nevada, from Reno to Las Vegas and many rural communities in between. He spent five years as the Chaplain at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and while there, he founded the Southern Nevada Chapter of the St. Benedict Labre Homeless Ministry.  It started with PB & J sandwiches from the trunk of his car but now, almost two decades later, there are dozens of free-lance volunteers feeding, clothing and caring for hundreds of people.

In 2004, Father McShane was sent back to rural Nevada, and eventually found a home in Ely, (that’s pronounced E-Lee not E-Lye) at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Ely is four hours north of Las Vegas, so everyone was surprised when Father maintained his outreach ministry in Las Vegas. To this day, Father McShane drives eight hours to the Westside of Las Vegas to attend the weekly event and back, every week. His parish in Ely is incredibly supportive and send socks, underwear, gift cards, bus passes and other helpful items to the indigent.

Nearly every Monday for the past eighteen years, he has come to G Street in an effort to lessen the burden of homelessness and to make their lives more bearable.

Mass at the original McWilliams townsite.

My first night on G Street while a fellow volunteer was telling me how they came to serve, I spotted an old priest out of the corner of my eye. “Is that… is that Father McShane?” They knew him as Father John, so I excused myself and approached him for a closer look.  I was still several feet away when I caught his eye and he paused. “Hey! You’re a Murphy!”  He asked me how my sisters and parents were. We chatted as he passed out socks to the dozens of people that had surrounded him. I felt an instant connection to G Street through Father McShane, as so many before and since have.

Father McShane has an entourage. Since his parish, as well as other groups collect for the St. Benedict Labre Ministry, he often has high use items that aren’t commonly handed out. He is swarmed from the moment that he steps out of his car. He gives everyone what he has and makes a list of what everyone is asking for.  People ask him to bless them, they ask for his prayers and they eagerly update him on their situations.

St. Benedict Joseph Labre, patron of the homeless.

Week after week, those in need flock to him. They surround him with their hands out but he never loses patience or hope. He never judges people or tries to determine who is most worthy of what he has. He gives, blesses, prays and listens.

Every Monday for nearly twenty years.

His patience and generosity are contagious. I leave conversations with him feeling lighter.  My voice and my heart are softer after speaking with him.

He isn’t the only one on G Street that has found peace by serving others. Many people have followed in the father’s footsteps and Las Vegas is a better place because of it.  I truly believe that he’ll be canonized one day.

It is in honor of Father John McShane that I came up with a recipe that I call Holy Mole  It can be served as a side dish or as main dish, in a cup or bowl.








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