When Archbishop James A. Hickey arrived in Washington in August 1980, he rapidly began charting a new course for the Catholic church here, one that attempted to make a closer connection between social responsibility and religious principle. McKenna House, a $600,000 experiment primarily funded by money that had been sitting in Catholic Charities' investment reserve, has been the centerpiece of that effort.

"When I visited St. Matthews," Hicket said in a recent interview, "I saw all of the bodies lying out there in the alleys behind. They were filled with men who had no place to go. I said, "What's going to happen to them?"

The church was compelled to search for answers, he said. "The idea comes from what the Lord said . . . "When I was hungry you fed me, when I was homeless you gave me shelter' . . . Theologically, it's simply the belief in the dignity of the individual human being."

Hickey said McKenna Hopuse was in part a response to the social services budget cuts of the Reagan administration. "When you think about all the people the government is stepping back from, you sometyimes get the feeling that we'll never come close to success," he said. "One of the government's functions is to care for these people . . . We can do pilot projects . . . I would hope that McKenna House might be translated into an ongoing government program." CAPTION: Picture 1, Archbishop James A. Hickey. ; Picture 2, McKenna House, below, where four Catholic clerics and 15 homeless, jobless men joined in a mission to "explore the mystery of human failure and the possibility of human redemption." By Bill Snead -- The Washington Post THE GENESIS OF MCKENNA HOUSE Archbishop Hickey: A Belief in Human Dignity

When Archbishop James A. Hickey arrived in Washington in August 1980, he rapidly began charting a new course for the Catholic church here, one that attempted to make a closer connection between social responsibility and religious principle. McKenna House, a $600,000 experiment primarily funded by money that had been sitting in Catholic Charities' investment reserve, has been the centerpiece of that effort.

"When I visited St. Matthews," Hicket said in a recent interview, "I saw all of the bodies lying out there in the alleys behind. They were filled with men who had no place to go. I said, "What's going to happen to them?"

The church was compelled to search for answers, he said. "The idea comes from what the Lord said . . . "When I was hungry you fed me, when I was homeless you gave me shelter' . . . Theologically, it's simply the belief in the dignity of the individual human being."

Hickey said McKenna Hopuse was in part a response to the social services budget cuts of the Reagan administration. "When you think about all the people the government is stepping back from, you sometyimes get the feeling that we'll never come close to success," he said. "One of the government's functions is to care for these people . . . We can do pilot projects . . . I would hope that McKenna House might be translated into an ongoing government program."Picture 1, Archbishop James A. Hickey. By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post; Picture 2, McKenna House, below, where four Catholic clerics and 15 homeless, jobless men joined in a mission to "explore the mystery of human failure and the possibility of human redemption." By Bill Snead -- The Washington Post