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Foundation gifts Malachi House with statue

CLEVELAND — The Community West Foundation has gifted Malachi House with one of six statues in the Matthew 25 Collection created by Timothy Schmalz.

The statue ”When I Was Naked” was dedicated Friday at a presentation to the public of its permanent home at the Kaki’s Garden at Malachi House, which serves those in need who are terminally ill.

The statue portrays Jesus as a homeless man, naked and clinging to a piece of cardboard to keep him warm. The statue is located in front of the house, alongside a curbside flower garden.

Malachi House was founded in 1987 through a pioneering effort to preserve human dignity for terminally ill individuals. The inspiration came from the ministry of Father Paul Hritz and Catherine “Kaki” O’Neill of St. Malachi Parish, who often encountered homeless individuals dying under bridges, in cars, deserted buildings and other unsuitable places within the city.

Malachi House was chosen by Community West Foundation, as one of six locations for the Matthew 25 Collection, an assemblage of bronze statues created by Schmalz. The statues depict Jesus in various situations and are connected thematically to the mission of each community partner where the statues will be placed.

Cleveland will be only the second city in the world, following Rome, Italy, to have the full collection of all six bronze figures in the Matthew 25 Collection.

The statue “When I Was Naked” confronts the viewer’s prejudices against the impoverished and compels them to look deeper for a glimpse of the divinity and dignity within them.

In 2017, Community West Foundation purchased a replica of the Homeless Jesus sculpture. The single artwork since has traveled to dozens of churches and partner organizations as a powerful public reminder of the importance of caring for those in need.

The five artworks and their partner organizations are “Homeless Jesus” at St. Malachi Parish; “When I Was Sick” at Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital; “When I Was in Prison” at Bridge CLE; “When I Was a Stranger” at Refugee Response on the Urban Community School campus; and “When I Was Naked” at Malachi House, all in Cleveland.

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