"We're in this together," said Gillespie, echoing the refrain of the pandemic. "It takes a neighborhood to repair itself. It's not just my house or my church, it's our church and our house."
"[St. Albert's] has always been a welcoming parish," said Gillespie. The church has been in the neighborhood for 85 years and was a place that the community gravitated to when their homes felt threatened.
"Any church offers that possibility in times of need," said Gillespie, who said the parish follows the "sanctuary model."
The Saint Albert the Great community has received an outpouring of donations to distribute to those in need, including water, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and food. Gillespie noted that the church received three substantial monetary donations the morning of June 1 alone.
Giving back to those in need is nothing new to St. Albert's church: even before the recent destruction in the neighborhood, St. Albert was helping to provide food and rent to those most affected by the pandemic.
Parishioner Rebecca Davis, who has lived in the Longfellow neighborhood since 2001, said that she thinks of St. Albert the Great as "the little parish that could."
Since the onset of the coronavirus, St. Albert's has organized teams of parishioners to serve the community, both parishioners and non-Catholics alike.
The community response to the violence accompanying protests has largely been a grass-roots effort to meet the community's needs as they emerge.
"It's a lot of pop-up organizations,'' said St. Albert the Great part-time staff member Ed Burke. "One day they will come up, they will start taking donations, they will fill a field, and then they will stop. So then you go somewhere else."
"So many people want to help but they aren't sure what to do," said Davis. She recently tried donating food to a local school that called for donations, and joined a line that stretched around several blocks in order to do so.
"So much has been destroyed," said Sim, "but [it is] inviting us to think about the world we want to rebuild."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Despite the destruction he has witnessed in the past week, Father Gillespie will not give up his sense of humor.
"I haven't been to a slumber party since I was about 10," said Gillespie, reflecting on Thursday night.