Catholic Worker Hospitality House of San Bruno - Providing meals and shelter in San Bruno, California.

October Update

by Ella Chatfield-Stiehler


We are always trying to make our houses a little nicer for the folks who live in them. To that end I recently started working on transforming the backyard of our transitional house in Oakland from a drab uninviting space into a more welcoming and usable space. In mid September we removed an old rotting deck and installed a new 11’ x 13’ brick patio. Then we added mulch to trim the area and last week Kate ordered some patio furniture from an area carpenter. The space is already much more inviting! This winter, after we get a little rain, we will finish landscaping the backyard.



In mid-March as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic we stopped offering shower services to our dining room guests.  At the time so little was known regarding the spread of the virus that we felt it was wiser to halt shower services.  Our thinking was that offering showers posed too much of a risk to staff and shelter guests and it was more important to keep the dining room and shelter operating.

In mid-September during a Zoom Catholic Worker retreat I learned that House of Grace Catholic Worker in Philadelphia had continued shower services at their Free Health Clinic.  Johanna and Mary Beth who operate the house are both nurses and had consulted a doctor who said that if they cleaned the shower between uses it would be safe to continue offering shower services.  I was so happy to hear of this as I know how important showers are to our homeless guests.  So after six months of not offering shower services to our dining room guests we resumed offering this service in late September.  Needless to say, our guests are quite pleased with this new development!



At Catholic Worker Hospitality House we have been lucky to continue our dining room and homeless shelter with only minor changes despite the dangers posed by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, we are facing a tougher challenge regarding our annual Thanksgiving Dinner.  Thanksgiving Dinner is our biggest event of the year, both for guests and volunteers.  For the past twenty-three years we’ve hosted a traditional feast with over two hundred folks in attendance at St. Bruno’s Parish Hall.  Considering the situation with COVID-19 I don’t see us doing our usual indoor sit-down dinner this year.

Maybe by late November the pandemic will have abated enough to allow gatherings, but it’s just as likely that there will be a resurgence of the virus. Most likely we’ll have to offer our guests a Thanksgiving meal packaged To-Go.  It’s hardly the festive communal meal we’re accustomed to hosting, but considering the circumstances, it’s probably the best we can do this year.

Bottom line is we will do something for Thanksgiving, we’re just not sure how or what.  But doing nothing doesn’t seem an option.  I’m going to wait as long as I can to see what the health restrictions are and then come up with a definite plan.  I’ll keep you all updated on our Thanksgiving Dinner plans.

Many of you have regularly helped out in the past either by preparing food or volunteering.  It would be helpful to know who will be able to assist again this year.  Could you send an email to to let us know whether or not you’ll be able to assist?  It’ll be very helpful in our planning process.  Thanks!


In Christ’s Peace,

Peter Stiehler
Catholic Worker Hospitality House