Sister Eileen Murphy, a Catholic Nun along with the Sisters of Mercy, and members of a Social Action Conference of Mercy, saw the social needs in Providence and started two soup kitchen’s Amos House and McAuley House in the mid ‘70’s that began to serve free meals to the homeless community.
Amos House was created from her small soup kitchen at 56 Somerset Street, gathering free food from the city’s farmer’s market and a restaurant on Federal Hill.
Named after the Old Testament prophet who stood for social justice, Amos House provides free lunches to many hungry people a day. After a while, Amos House added breakfast to its menu.
To support the growing soup kitchen, Sister Eileen teams up with eight other groups to form the Fund for Community Progress, which raises money through payroll deduction programs.
In 1983, her vision of a “Cathedral for the poor” is realized with the building of Amos House’s bright new dining hall at 415 Friendship Street, right around the corner from the small soup kitchen at 56 Somerset Street, which was transformed into a shelter for homeless men.
In response to a growing homeless population spurred by a national recession and welfare cuts, Amos House also opens a women’s shelter, a transitional residence for homeless families, and a rooming house for women with special needs. Substance abuse counseling is offered to residents and guests.
McAuley House was created when the Sisters of Mercy rented a house on Gallup Street, aiming to meet the most basic needs of poor women, men and children on the South Side of Providence.
The Sisters, working alongside dedicated volunteers, began providing food, clothing and community in an atmosphere of love and respect. Sr. Eileen Murphy was the first director.
She visited rooming houses and taverns, inviting people to a hot meal. The first day two people came, the next day, a dozen. The daily crowds grew.
Sadly, Sister Eileen passed away in 1983, but she will always be remembered for her kindness to the homeless community.