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Choosing homelessness: This man sleeps rough for his faith

Francis John Ross Bush lives in ‘holy poverty’ but says his personal circumstances, like those of many homeless people, pushed him into the path he is now on.

MEET FRANCIS JOHN Ross Bush. For the last five and a half years, he has been technically homeless, though he would never use that word to describe his lifestyle.

He says he lives in ‘holy poverty’, dedicated to his faith and faith alone. Bush, who is originally from England, arrived in Ireland about three months ago after spending some time in Italy and when we spoke to him, he was spending his nights under the stars in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, relying on the goodwill of the Capuchin brothers for his meals and basic comforts at the soup kitchen they run.

imageSource: Michelle Hennessy/

"I’m not perhaps the usual type of person living in this way, but yes, I have no money, I have all my wordly goods on my back in general and I have to find somewhere each night to keep dry and warm and gratefully fed in Dublin's fair city," he told

Though he speaks strongly of his faith and his devotion to the work of God, Bush conceded that his personal circumstances, similar to many others who become homeless, had pushed him into the situation he is in now.

After his marriage ended and he was denied access to his son, he embarked on a pilgrimage around the world, explaining that he chose to "turn to God through these long painful years". Tragically, Bush said three years ago, at the age of 18, his son took his own life.

His pilgrimage continued and he recently spent some time with Franciscan brothers in Waterford before joining Dublin's homeless community.

He eats his meals at the Capuchin Day Centre, where we first met him, spends a good deal of his day praying in a church and then usually a few hours at the Dublin City Library where he uses the computers.

Bush said this lifestyle has brought him a certain clarity about the world, as he explains here:

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Source: Video

He is also in a unique position, spending time among Dublin's homeless population, but still looking in from the outside.

Bush said he feels most of all that there is a need for more places that "extend a welcome" to those with drug or alcohol problems who are living on the streets.

There’s a need for more of that sort of facility to give solace to those [people] - it is soul destroying. I’m blessed, in coming from a good, educated background, but with too much time on your hands and just, as it were, on the streets, it can be very painful, especially for young people.

From his time spent at the Capuchin Day Centre, he believes homeless people in Ireland can be better served by facilities run by religious orders, like the Franciscans.

"The beauty of the Franciscan friary, or Capuchin Day Centre, is that it’s underpinned by Christian spirit - everyone’s welcome, I’m quite sure there’s no racial, religious, colour sort of bar on anyone," he said. "Drunken people, I think, are asked to come back another time, but the ethos is quite clearly Christian and I’m sure that is in large part why it works so well."

Pic: Andrew Bennett via Flickr/Creative Commons

Catch up with all the rest of our Homeless Ireland series here>

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