Making Room in the Inn
Aurora’s House of Peace Offers Lodging for Women in Need
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
December 13, 2018
AURORA—A decent home and spiritual support are the mainstays at the House of Peace (Casa de la Paz) at St. Nicholas Parish here.
 
The residence is for women going through difficult times  who need a temporary place to live. The home also serves adult students looking for affordable, clean and safe lodging while they finish their classes.
 
Religious and lay women live in the house as part of a project that was born “more than a decade ago” with the aim of “hosting women who are hard-working and self-sufficient,” says Father Andres Salinas, pastor.
 
Other parish ministries
 
Besides the residential service for women, St. Nicholas Parish in Aurora, with the collaboration of volunteers, provides hot foods for those in need at Hesed House in Aurora every two months. 
 
Every two weeks the parish also distributes pantry items for dozens of families with donations received from St. John Neumann in St. Charles and St. Thomas in Naperville, a Chicago Archdiocese parish.
 
St. Nicholas offers religious education to about 1,000 children and about 500 moms and dads at their School for Parents. 
 
Parish ministries also offer social and cultural activities to help the community. 
 
Info: 630/898-8707
The building was initially built as a convent, but the sisters who originally lived there have moved elsewhere, Father Salinas says. 
 
The building was adapted for  use by lay women, although members of  Missionaries of the Holy Family, a Mexican religious congregation, live on the second floor.  
 
Valentina Patiño, a student from Colombia attending St Augustine College in Aurora, has been among the residents.
 
“I liked it a lot, it was a different experience,” she says. “I lived with Mexican and Venezuelan women, different from my culture.” 
 
During the six months of her stay there, what she liked the most was the way she was treated. 
 
“They treated me very well and they were always willing to help me with whatever I needed,” she says. 
 
Patiño recommends the house “because it is very cozy.”
 
“The cost of living there is relatively low compared to other options,” she adds, saying the suggested donation is $240 a month.
 
The building is situated on parish grounds, and residents with cars use the shared parking lot. For those using public transportation, it is walking distance to train or bus stations, an advantage especially for students.
 
Among shared facilities in the house are a kitchen, two dining rooms, two chapels and   bathrooms, says Sister Ventura.
 
There are eight bedrooms for women who meet the requirements to live there, which include following the discipline of the house and being willing to live in harmony with other residents. 
 
Those who live there must be responsible adults and practitioners of Christian values, she adds.
Sisters guide residents
 
Sister Maria Ventura Chávez Orozco of the Missionary of the Holy Family order says the religious sisters work as spiritual guides with residents.
 
Sister Irma Luna, OpSF, catechetical director at the parish, says living at the house “is a beautiful experience. When we see them in the house, we socialize, they talk about their experiences.”
 
To ensure the peace the house is named for, sisters lead  monthly meetings to give residents a chance to decide on how to share household responsibilities and hear spiritual advice from the sisters.