St. Malachi Parish, 2459 Washington Ave., on Cleveland’s West Side got an early Christmas present when the Homeless Jesus statue was installed in front of the church on Dec. 22, 2021.
The statue is part of the Matthew 25 Collection crafted by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz. The Community West Foundation announced acquisition of the set of six bronze figures in July as a way to expand conversations around issues of social justice, privilege, compassion and empathy. Cleveland is only the second city in the world besides Rome, Italy to have the full collection of statues. Their arrival was delayed for months, but they made it to Cleveland before Christmas.
Homeless Jesus depicts the basic need for shelter and raises awareness of the homeless population in the community in need of care and compassion. St. Malachi Parish long has advocated for the homeless and hungry.
Nearby Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital, 1730 W. 25th St., Cleveland, is the home of the When I was Sick statue, which also was installed on Dec. 22. This figure is representative of not just physical illness, but the many ways illness can affect people, including mental illness, addiction, disability and abuse.
Malachi House, 2810 Clinton Ave., Cleveland, just down the street from the hospital, is the location of the When I was Naked statue, also installed prior to Christmas. This piece illustrates the vulnerability of the poor and those who live without their basic needs being met. Malachi House serves the terminally ill without regard to gender, race, religion or national origin and without cost to the resident or family. It ministers to those who need a caregiver but have limited or no financial resources and are in need of special home care in their final stages of life.
Two statues, When I was in Prison and When I was Hungry and Thirsty, were previously installed at Bridge CLE (formerly known as Family Ministry Center), 3389 Fulton Road, Cleveland, and the Old Stone Church, 91 Public Square, Cleveland, respectively. When I was in Prison portrays the loneliness of people who are incarcerated and the struggles they face upon reentry to society. The Old Stone Church’s statue portrays the desperation and hopelessness of those who are starving experience.
The final statue, When I was a Stranger, will be installed in the spring on the Urban Community School Campus, 4909 Lorain Ave., Cleveland. Construction is delaying that installation. The statue, which urges people to understand the difficulties faced by immigrants entering a new country, will be located on the UCS campus, which is the location of Refugee Response.
Community West Foundation, originally known as the Fairview/Lutheran Foundation, has been supporting these Cleveland Clinic hospitals as well as many other nonprofit agencies throughout grant making since 1997. It is dedicated to supporting organizations that provide the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and medical care in Greater Cleveland. In 2020, the foundation distributed $7.4 million in grants.
For more information on the statues, click here.