An Ecumenical, Spiritual, and Charitable Community
"St. Dismas House" was opened as a House of Hospitality at 1601 N. Bois d'Arc in Tyler, Texas, on May 9, 1993 by Father Tom Jackson...and it was from there that struggle and joy and Community blossomed.
Father Tom, ordained an Episcopal priest in 1968, had worked in various ministries throughout the U.S. (as a parish priest in both the inner city and the suburbs, and as director of a United Campus Ministry), and concurrently completed Ph.D. studies in clinical psychology and hypnotherapy, serving as director of a community mental health center, a diocesan counselor, and a pastoral counselor/therapist. In 1990, he decided to form an ecumenical, spiritual community of Companions throughout the country, and named it the "Community of Hope"; in 1992 he went to learn and work with the Roman Catholic "Andre House" workers in Phoenix. From those experiences, and through readings of the lives of Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, and others, he decided as Abbot, in 1993, to re-dedicate (and re-name) "The Order of Christian Workers" to work with the poor and struggling.
St. Dismas Community has become known regionally and nationally as a safe and sacred place for pilgrims who struggle along The Way: those with HIV/AIDS, those in various minorities, those working in Recovery, immigrants, children at risk, and those of various economic circumstances who wish to form spiritual community; thus, the Community has continually promoted dialogue and community-building through activities at St. Dismas House and through the monthly newsletter, Journey.
In the ensuing years, as more and more pilgrims from many different religious and vocational backgrounds became active in the work and spirit of the Order, various Companions have been blessed as monks and nuns, as servant-leaders committed to a lifelong involvement in the ministry and work. None of the Servant-leaders or the Companions of the Order receive salary; all operating funds come from begging rather than grants or denominational budgets. After working under the "umbrella" of a local parish for several years, the Order was officially accepted as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable and religious organization in 1996, and the continuing work is directed by the Abbot, with the supervision and approval of the Board of Trustees.
In these past years, several Houses have been renovated to provide sacred sanctuary for healing, work, prayer, and liturgy: St. Dismas House, St. Clare House, MaryHouse, St. Gandhi House, St. Dorothy Day House, St. Peter Maurin House, St. Oscar Romero House, St. Joseph House...but in late '06, realizing that the Order could no longer finance these Houses, they were transferred to the ownership of various Companions in our Community; "Sanctuary" (Grace House, Hosanna House, Esperance House, Agape House, Epiphany House, Assisi House) remains a center of residence for several Companions, as well as O.C.W. activities and the office. From such, Community grows... a contagious sense of new life and hope begins... and spirits soar to reunion with the heart of God...
Perhaps the last known words of the wonderful monk, Thomas Merton, will convey our intended spirit and focus as an Order: "What we are asked to do at present is not so much to speak of Christ as to let him live in us, so that people may find him by feeling how he lives in us."
For further information and/or answers to possible questions, please refer to FAQs and Contact Us.