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Nuns' Soup Kitchen Faces Eviction After Heavy Rent Increase

Sisters of Fraternite of Notre Dame
A group of Chicago nuns facing eviction from the building where they run a soup kitchen in San Francisco, California, seen distributing food to the homeless in a WLS-TV report in Chicago, Illinois, on February 9, 2016. |

A soup kitchen run by an order of nuns in the San Francisco area faces eviction after their rent was substantially increased by their landlord.

The Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen were told last month that their rent was to increase from about $3,400 to $5,500.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle published Monday, Fraternite Notre Dame member Sister Mary of the Angels stated, "All we want to do is help the homeless."

"Homeless people often have no affection, and here we can say hello and give them some good food. I give my heart," explained the nun.

Based in Chicago, Illinois, the Fraternite Notre Dame is an order that came to the United States from France, where it was found in 1977.

In 2008, Fraternite Notre Dame opened a mission in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco, dubbing the location the Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen.

"Our Sisters serve a good, hot meal to 300 persons a day, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.," stated the order on its website.

"They also go and bring full meals to senior citizens, and on a different day, they do the same to 25 AIDS patients living in their homes, near the Soup Kitchen."

According to ABC Chicago, while the order does its share of charity work, Fraternite Notre Dame owns millions of dollars worth of property and is not in good official standing with the Roman Catholic Church.

"They call themselves a 'traditional Catholic religious order' and some donors may believe that the organization is approved by the church, but it isn't," reported ABC.

"They are part of an unsanctioned French order and overseen by a priest who the Chicago Archdiocese has said is not in good standing with the church."

Local media noted that the Sisters are not taking the situation passively, having hired an attorney to fight the eviction.

"The sisters' lawyer, Daniel Fitzpatrick, said the building's owner wants the nuns to pay the higher rent or leave. Fitzpatrick is fighting the eviction, pro bono, on the grounds that the soup kitchen is also the nuns' residence because they sleep in the back," reported the Chronicle.

"Fitzpatrick said the rent was raised from $3,465 to $5,500 a month as of Jan. 15, and he advised the nuns to fight it. As it is now, he said, they can barely meet the lower rent by selling their pastries."

Nick Patel, the landlord for the Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen, is out of the country. For the time being, the matter being put "on hold" according to his lawyer.

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