The Deacon's Bench

That would be the pictures contained in this poignant and wonderfully inspiring slideshow, put together by the Downtown Chapel Catholic Parish of Portland, Oregon.

The Catholic Sentinel has details:

Though it wasn’t an intended part of the original vision of the photography project, the images taken of members of the Old Town community each year track changes in the lives of those who use the services of the parish.

“It gives us a chance to see not only who’s not here anymore, but also it allows us to see the transitions people have made,” said the church’s pastoral associate, Andrew Noethe.

As church employees and volunteers watched the slideshow of past images from the Portrait Project, they took a break from the whirlwind pace of meeting immediate needs to reflect on those with whom they’ve worked in the past.

With most days spent being “present to those who are here today,” Noethe said, they don’t often have a chance to sit back and remember friends who have moved away or no longer need the services of the parish, which has a central mission to serve the poor or homeless who congregate in the neighborhood.

“There is high turnover,” Noethe said. “The transition is overwhelming, to think every day we get six to 10 new people we’ve never seen before.”

Check out the slideshow of this year’s portraits, at this link.  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself suddenly moved beyond words.  Every face tells a story.

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