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 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.
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.
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 this recipe. It can be served as a side dish or as main dish, in a cup or bowl.
Slow Cooker Black Beans
3 C dried black beans
4 C broth
Coat the inside of your crockpot with pan spray. Pour in beans and broth. Cover beans with water. Cook on high for six hours, adding water, as necessary to keep beans covered with liquid. I use chicken-bone broth for flavor but if you want to make this a vegetarian recipe you can substitute vegetable or mushroom broth.
3 C brown rice
6 C water
Pour water into a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Add rice and return to boil. Cover and keep on a low simmer for twenty minutes, stirring frequently.
1 T cooking oil
1 C onion, minced
1 28 oz can tomatoes, puréed
3 T unsweetened, powdered cocoa
1 t chipotle chile powder
2 t salt
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium flame. Add onion and cook until translucent, about five minutes. Pour puréed tomatoes into pan. Add cocoa, chili powder and salt, mix well. Bring sauce to a boil and let simmer for three minutes, stirring constantly.
Combine rice, beans and sauce. Mix thoroughly. Serve warm.