Diocesan News

Catholic community supports ‘Pope Francis’ Habitat House

Volunteers welcome to assist on building days:
Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays in Lincoln

By Dominic Winter

LINCOLN (SNR) - At the request of an anonymous donor, Lincoln/Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity is building a house in honor of Pope Francis at 2201 S.W. Soukup Dr., Lincoln.

About 35 volunteers helped the future Habitat homeowner, Brittany Ebaugh, raise the walls June 18 after a blessing ceremony by Father Justin Fulton, assistant pastor of the Cathedral of the Risen Christ Parish in Lincoln.

With $60,000 from the donor and a challenge to the Lincoln Catholic community to match it, construction kicked off in April and will finish before the year’s end.

The house has three purposes, in addition to assisting Brittany Ebaugh and her two sons, as the sign at the build site says. First, the house “honors Pope Francis for his commitment to social justice and reinvigorating the Catholic Church.” Second, it “provides a unifying, celebratory opportunity for both Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers to work together toward a common goal.” Third, it “furthers Habitat’s mission of building and preserving homes.”

Stephanie Novacek, Habitat director of development, said the Catholic support June 18 was incredible.

“Father Fulton said this is what Pope Francis is teaching us to do,” she said. “I want to see a sense of pride and coming together for this one common goal, building homes in partnership with families.”

Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si came out that same day, so Father Fulton remarked on the combination of caring for the earth and for God’s people.

“The pope is always calling us to a culture of encounter,” he said. “It’s seeing and answering to human need.”

Beth Ruhl, a member of St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln, has volunteered to help Habitat reach out to the Catholic community for support. Several Catholic groups, such as the Denton Knights of Columbus, the Frassati young adult group, Phi Kappa Theta fraternity and the Pius X High School football team, all committed to volunteer at the Pope Francis House.

“I’d like to make a point that the Catholic community does a beautiful job serving the poor in our community, such as through CSS,” Ruhl said. “The Pope Francis House helps to set up solidarity with the greater Christian community.”

As a Christian-based organization, Habitat invites Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers alike to send prayers, volunteer to build and/or provide financial support for this project. Those interested in volunteering or donating may contact Michele Williamson at 402-477-9184 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. An email list alerts participants where volunteers will work. Building days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from about 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting.

In its 27 years of operation, Lincoln/Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity has built houses in partnership with families of low income. The Pope Francis house is the 141st Habitat home in Lancaster County. Habitat provides partner families with education, family support, an interest-free loan and a hand up to a better future. All Habitat family partners complete the in-depth application process to be accepted into the program. Approximately five or six Habitat homes are built in Lancaster County every year, but the need is much higher.

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