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Bishop to convert former seminary into temporary home for the needy

2013-10-05

Back in December, the Bishop of Lleida, Spain, Joan Piris, attended a meeting to hear from people who had lost their homes when the housing market crashed. They couldn't afford to pay their mortgages, so the bishop made them an offer.   

MSGR. JOAN PIRIS FRIGOLA
Bishop of Lleida
"While listening to them talk about their problem, I said: 'I don't know if I have a solution, but there is something I can do to help. Right now we have this building. If you need it, let's see what we can do with it.' The building was part of the former seminary, which had been closed for many years now.”

Three days after making the offer, an unemployed architect joined the project. He offered his services for free. Soon after, a wave of solidarity took over, and the group began remodeling the former seminary.

MSGR. JOAN PIRIS FRIGOLA
Bishop of Lleida
"They're not rooms for sale or for rent. It's simply allowing a few people and families that are in need to use them for a few years. The project is finalized, everything has been approved, architect volunteers are doing incredible work. There are nearly 44 people, almost 50 volunteers, technicians specialized in all fields. That for me is a great lesson, and it upholds all of my convictions. They have made that into their motto: all together, for the good of everyone.” 

Raising the money to renovate the building is pretty basic: from small personal donations, to much larger ones. The project from the Diocese of Lleida echoes the call from the Pope to use the Church's empty buildings to house those who are most in need. When Monsignor Piris introduced his initiative to Pope Francis, the Pope praised his idea.

Construction work is still underway at the seminary. In all, the space that the diocese has provided will accommodate about 20 apartments for families who are now homeless. 


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AA/Diocese of Lleida
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