Patrick Edrey graduated from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota with a major in peace studies in 2004, and he's worked on the issue of homelessness ever since. He currently serves as a family advocate at Simpson Housing Services in Minneapolis, where he helps families achieve stability and work toward permanent housing.
"A lot of my work is trying to break the cycle of poverty and helping create conditions that allow individual families to thrive," he says. Still, there's a ripple effect: "We serve our families first and foremost, but I always view the work in a larger social and cultural context," he says. "We're trying to affect the community as a whole."
Edrey says his motivations are theological and spiritual: "The reason I do this work is because God said so. That's what it boils down to, ultimately. God has special love and concern for folks who are vulnerable."
Teaching eighth- and ninth-graders in the religious education program at his parish, St. Odilia in Shoreview, Minnesota, gives Edrey another chance to draw on his peace studies background. "That's where I can share some of the theological underpinnings of why I do what I do," he says.
This article appeared in the March 2010 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 75, No. 3, pages 12-17).