If the Vatican were looking for someone who models the kind of church Pope Francis envisions, it would be difficult to do better than Mercy Sr. Mary Scullion, a North Philadelphia icon, founder of Project HOME and fierce, if jovial, advocate for the city’s poor and homeless for the past 40 years.
The mention of Francis recently brought a huge smile to Scullion, who was asked by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput to head up the Committee on Hunger and Homelessness for the Sept. 22-25 World Meeting of Families. Pope Francis speaks a language — about the margins, about the need for the church to get out of the sanctuary, about the art of accompaniment — that has defined Scullion’s life and ministry since 1976.
She said she received a call from an archdiocesan official a year ago telling her that Chaput wanted to meet with her and then met with the archbishop numerous times over details of the event. “I have worked pretty closely with him, and he has been really phenomenal on this,” she said during an interview here in August. “I really appreciate the opportunity to do this.”