E-news and SSJ staff

An image of the cover of the new
fictional book set in
Erie and
featuring St. Patrick's Haven as
one of the locations.

Photo/Stephanie Hall

ERIE — The Butterfly Christmas, billed as a heartwarming, faith-inspiring story of hope by William McDonald of Boulder, Colorado, has pivoted to benefit a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwest Pennsylvania.

            Set in Erie, the fictional story incorporates real-life inspiration and settings. When McDonald decided to incorporate a homeless shelter into his story a few years ago, he reached out to Betsy Wiest, executive director of St. Patrick’s Haven. Wiest shared many details with the author about the organization’s ministry.

            When he finished the book, McDonald contacted Wiest to let her know the book was now available online. Until that call, he had been completely unaware of the September 2022 fire at St. Patrick’s Haven. Although no one was injured, the damage from both fire and water was extensive enough to displace the nightly guests. Wiest quickly began to collaborate with the Mental Health Association, which offered to provide temporary space for the organization to continue its outreach.

             Upon learning the news, McDonald decided to use a portion of

Significant damage was incurred as a result of both fire and 
water at St. Patrick Haven on Sept. 13, 2022.  Photo/Courtesy
of the Sisters of St. Joseph

sales of the book to help the shelter with its plans to re-open. He has pledged 25 percent of the net proceeds from sales of The Butterfly Christmas through March 31, 2023, to St. Patrick’s Haven. He has pledged another 25 percent to the Red Cross to support its efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Ian.

            McDonald credits a vision and divine inspiration for bringing forth this story of a young child in Erie who sends a letter to Santa asking him to heal her terminally ill sister. The events that unfold ultimately bring Santa to Erie… where he stays at St. Patrick’s Haven. 

            One reviewer states, "The Butterfly Christmas is nothing short of a miracle. A testament to faith, love, and a child's hope. It is a 21st Century It's A Wonderful Life, a holiday gift waiting to be unwrapped and adored."

            The Butterfly Christmas is available exclusively on St. Patrick’s Haven has provided for the needs of homeless men in the City of Erie since it was founded in 1984 as an outreach of Erie’s St. Patrick’s Parish. In the mid-1990s, it became a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Their mission is to offer “a ministry of presence and provide a place of welcome, nightly refuge, food, comfort and friendship for homeless men in the area.”

            Wiest is hopeful repairs to St. Patrick’s Haven will begin in early 2023. A construction timeline has not yet been established as many factors, including supply chain issues and winter weather will impact the project. Donations can be made to St. Patrick’s Haven through a link on their website.