The date was August 28, 2013. The place was the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of "The March for the Dream," culminating in Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Rev. Paul Mast was in the crowd. Tired of the long-winded political speeches, which didn’t help the oppressive capital city sauna-like temperature, he walked to the King Memorial off Independence Avenue. The contemplative space invited a prayerful reading of Dr. King’s iconic speech. Afterwards, thirsting for a bottle of water, he walked to the Smithsonian METRO stop. As he approached the escalator, an African-American man, holding a plastic cup, asked if he had any spare change. Mast replied, "Yes, I do. How much do you need?" The reply stunned him. "$1.79" was the answer. Curiosity formed Mast’s next question. "What will that much do for you?" The answer was another stunner. "I’ve been counting my coins, and that’s all I need to renew my METRO card to get back to my aunts’ house." Impressed by the man’s honesty, Paul Mast invited the man down to the ticket machines where he put $5 on the man’s ticket.

Paul Mast then introduced himself. The man responded in kind, "I’m Duane." Mast then asked to hear the story about his begging for change. What he heard touched him. Duane was an Iraq War veteran living with shrapnel that affects his on-again/off-again behaviors to keep a job. When he is out of work, he begs for coins at that METRO stop. Mast then repaid Duane’s vulnerability. "I’m a Catholic priest ordained 41 years. Next month I will begin a six-month sabbatical. I don’t have any plans, yet. I would welcome your suggestions."

Duane pondered the question, then responded. "Reverend, you’re different from most people I encounter. You introduced yourself by name. No one ever does that. You cared enough to ask my name, which no one ever does. You asked about my story. Once again, no one cares enough to listen. You shared your story and no one ever does that. Your style has made me less invisible and recharged my dignity. Why don’t you think about spending your sabbatical with the homeless to see what new life lessons they might teach for your preaching." Without knowing it, God used Duane to sow a seed inviting the curious priest to trust the homeless man’s words and vision. Two weeks later, Paul Mast was on the streets of San Francisco encountering the homeless, as a different kind of beggar, allowing them to mentor him into a more compassionate priest and a more effective preacher of the gospel of life.

During the next four months, Paul Mast visited eight cities, including Delhi, India and Munich, Germany. He didn’t wear the hat of a tourist. Rather, he sought out homeless people and those who offered outreach. He kept a journal of every person he encountered and every place he visited. In the fall of 2014, Mast released a book entitled Street Sabbatical – Life Lessons for a Contemplative Beggar.

Fast forward nine years. Revisiting his journal during the first Covid-19 quarantine, he began writing lyrics to songs based on his own written words. By the spring of 2022, he wrote lyrics for 16 songs.  The title of his opus is: Compassion Street.

Paul Mast designed the musical logo. It is screen printed on tee-shirts. Sizes medium, large and extra-large will be on sale for $16.00 following the performance. The T-shirt features the sculpture of "Homeless Jesus", by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz. Signed copies of Paul’s book Street Sabbatical will also be on sale for $16.00. Pay by cash, check or credit card.