‘Street Nun’ Formed a Community Through Canning

Sister Ana Martinez de Luco, SFCC, recognized that to simply talk of God’s love to those who are suffering is not enough. So she adopted voluntary homelessness to better serve those in need. After learning how canning can be a means of survival for those who are homeless, she co-founded ‘Sure We Can,’ a non-profit recycling center and community space for those living on the streets.

“It’s my way of making God present. I just offer my love, my support, and my mind — whatever I have — to do something that responds to their needs.”

Video Transcript

Meet Sister Ana: street nun

Brooklyn, New York

(person sorts through cans)

Sister Ana Martinez de Luco, SFCC: I chose to go and pick up cans in the evenings. I thought, “Wow, this is a very good activity.” First, you can get a few dollars for coffee, transportation, whatever. And at the same time you do something good, which is picking up recyclables. I said, “Well, it’s just a job, but it’s something good.”

In 2004, Sister Ana adopted voluntary homelessness to better serve people living on the street.

Though at the beginning it looked a little bit crazy, I was going to be 50 at the time. But day-to-day, I felt confirmed that that was for the rest of my life — to share the life of that body of Christ, that humanity that is thrown on the streets.

Sister Ana joined a community of local canners she met on the street. Together they founded a recycling center called “Sure We Can.

(people sort through bins of cans)

This is my way of doing theology. I just cannot come here to mothers who can’t give even a grain of rice to their babies and children crying, and I will start to talk about how good is God, how much God loves them. I feel totally stupid doing that. So it’s just listening to them, walking with them, crying and laughing with them. Well, it’s my way of making God present. I just offer my love, my support, and my mind, whatever I have, to do something that respond to their need.

“Sure We Can” now serves over 700 canners and processes 11,000,000 cans and bottles every year.

Even that of “nun,” I don’t like the name. I like just “sister,” because literally I want to be a sister, the elder sister of those who really have hard time to walk in life. And they are my family. So when I try to explain that, well, this is my community, this is my family, this is my people, and this is my residence, the street, it came clear that yeah, maybe a street nun is the most adequate name.

God is the best boss you ever can have. And you feel loved, you feel cared, you feel protected. At the end is so gratifying and so easy. And He always open doors, even in the most difficult situation that you almost feel like despairing. There is something that happen and becomes new. And what, it’s easy, even the difficult works can be very easy at the end.

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