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Mark Zwick dies; Catholic Worker pioneer offered shelter to 100,000 refugees in Texas

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/22/16

A colleague who is active in the Catholic Worker movement sent this my way. It’s a huge loss for the Catholic Worker folks, he said.

Reading this, I think it’s a huge loss for the world.

Details: 

Mark Zwick, who 36 years ago turned a tumble-down building on Washington Avenue into a thriving international refuge for immigrants and refugees, died Friday at his home in Houston after battling Parkinson’s Disease. He was 88. In 1980, Mark and his wife Louise founded Casa Juan Diego, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality where thousands of refugees escaping to Houston during the civil wars in Central America found safe harbor. In later years, Casa Juan Diego would expand to include ten buildings and become a beacon for immigrants fleeing violence and poverty everywhere. Its name became famous along the foot-beaten corridors that lead to the Texas-Mexico border. Inspired by the Sermon on the Mount, the methods of the Catholic saints, and Catholic Worker founders Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, Casa Juan Diego offered food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and uncommon kindness to migrants with no place to go and few places to get help. Over the years, more than 100,000 undocumented men, women, and children spent at least one night at Casa Juan Diego. The center continues to offer hospitality and medical care, and provides free food to around 500 families each week. After discovering the lack of resources for sick and injured immigrants, Mark also began offering financial support and coordinating personal care services for incapacitated men and women ineligible for social security disability benefits or worker’s comp. Today hospitals, schools, and police departments routinely refer immigrants to Casa Juan Diego for life-saving care. Mark spent the last 35 years of his life practicing the daily works of mercy at Casa Juan Diego. He welcomed immigrant guests and distributed food and clothing to the poor. He listened to the needs, joys, and tragedies of the sick and injured, the paralyzed, the battered, the pregnant, and the homeless in a strange land and found ways to help each one.

Read on. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

Photo: Houston Catholic Worker

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