St. Jude House was dedicated on Sunday, October 29, 1995 and began providing services on November 13, 1995. The completion and opening of St. Jude House represents a realization of a dream and the expansion of a mission by its benefactors and the support of the community for the project.
For Crown Point businessman, Donald J. Burrell, the dream began with a vision he had, and the help that he sought from the patron saint of those in need or desperate situations – St. Jude. It completes the promise he made to St. Jude many years ago that if St. Jude would help him in his business venture, Mr. Burrell would do something to honor St. Jude. Mr. Burrell sold his car for $700 and used the proceeds to start a darkroom in the basement of the Gary’s diocesan office with the support of Bishop Grutka. The basement business is now a nationwide, renowned professional color-processing laboratory known as Burrell Professional Labs.
For the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, St. Jude House expands the mission of caring for the young, the sick, the disabled and the elderly. The mission extends more than a century from the founding of the order by Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik to care for the elderly, sick, and poor.
Many individuals and businesses in the community donated materials and services in order to help lower construction costs and demonstrate their support of the project.
St. Jude House was the first shelter in the State of Indiana to publish its address in recognition of the fact that victims of domestic violence are more likely to access a shelter’s services if the shelter is visible. The Sisters felt that having the shelter hide its location would increase the likelihood that domestic violence would remain a hidden problem in the community, and therefore make women and children feel that they have done something shameful and must hide because of it.
During its first two years in operation, St. Jude House operated primarily from community donations and funds given by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. The shelter currently serves over 650 women and children a year and provides a full component of services including housing, food, toiletries, counseling for adults and children, case management, legal advocacy, liaison with Child Protective Services and other social service agencies, and educational programs concerning abuse.
St. Jude House is presently receiving more than 20 grants, executes two major fundraising events annually, and is still very dependent upon community support and donations from the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago for operating support.