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Saints Peter & Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit has renamed its 25-year-old warming center after Pope Francis, officials announced this week.

The new name is set to be celebrated with events in January at the center at St. Antoine and Larned, according to a statement. It also coincides with the first Jesuit pontiff last week launching the Jubilee Year of Mercy, during which worshipers worldwide are urged to pursue compassionate acts such as feeding the hungry, officials said.

“We are delighted by Pope Francis’ consistent message of love and mercy to the most vulnerable in our society,” said the Rev. Tim McCabe, who directs the center. “Francis asks us to see Christ in the faces of the poor, and that is what we do here: we see Jesus at our door when someone comes to us in need.”

The center started in 1990, when then-pastor Bob Hartigan opened the church’s doors to the homeless seeking refuge from a harsh winter storm — serving them coffee and setting out folding chairs, according to the website.

Since then, the facility has served more than 145,000 people, offering spiritual and physical care that has included 300,000 meals, 1 million cups of coffee and 75,000 pairs of socks, officials said Wednesday.

Through a donation from the UAW-Ford National Programs Center, the site has had many renovations in the last two years — adding showers, shaving stations, a full-service kitchen and laundry facilities, leaders said. It also houses clinics offering medical, legal and housing assistance as well as mental health care.

Since the renovation, the center has provided 2,400 showers, 1,400 loads of laundry and 800 visits to clinics, officials said.

“Because we have become so much more than a warming center, we needed a name that adequately reflects all we do,” McCabe said. “The name ‘Pope Francis Center’ is fitting because the pope has captured the world’s imagination and inspires us with his special love and concern for the poor and afflicted.”

For more information: http://www.popefranciscenter.org

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