Vincent Eirene has been a Catholic Worker since 1977, which means he’s been resisting war and providing hospitality to homeless men in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, for more than forty years—a truly biblical accomplishment. All that time, the Duncan and Porter House of Hospitality and Resistance (currently at 1615 Manhattan Street) has been home to the Catholic Worker community he helped to found.
But the pandemic nearly put an end to the community.
“It was hard for all of us,” he said. “It caused a lot of confusion, and everything just sort of stopped.”
Eirene credits Frank Cordaro (Des Moines Catholic Worker) with “keeping this thing from going the way of the dodo—extinct.”
A year ago Cordaro drove all the way from Des Moines with two other CWers for Eirene’s birthday. (“One thousand one hundred miles each way!” Eirene noted.) They spent a couple days cleaning…and in the process, gave Eirene and the community a boost.
“They put in two six-hour days cleaning the house on top of all the work we were already doing,” he says. “Not my idea of a vacation!”
Now, though, the community is appealing for funds to help repair and update the house. They have volunteers lined up to do the work, but they still need something north of $15,000 to repair the roof, replace the bathroom and kitchen floors, and do some basic repairs, like replacing guardrails.
Getting those projects done will help the community continue to provide men who have been roughing it on the streets with “a comfortable place to just live,” Eirene says: not an institution, not a system, but a home.
You can send donations to:
Duncan and Porter House of Hospitality and Resistance
1615 Manhattan St
Pittsburgh PA 15233
By the way, about the name of the community: Eirene says it comes from the name of the stone mason company that installed the fireplace of the original house. When Eirene cleaned out the fireplace for the first time, he saw that the clay firestone had the words DUNCAN AND PORTER ALLEGHENY PA pressed into it. That’s where he grew up, so he proposed naming the community “Duncan and Porter House of Hospitality and Resistance.” Friends said the name was too long, so he proposed amending it: “Duncan and Porter House of Hospitality and Resistance: The Stone the Builders Rejected Has Become the Cornerstone (Acts 4:11).”
His original suggestion prevailed.
Read more about Vincent Eirene in his book, The Day the Empire Fell.