CATH NEWS REPORT: A priest known for his unusual method for charitable giving has died in Los Angeles. Father Maurice Chase, also known as Father Dollar Bill, passed away Sunday evening at home.
Chase visited LA's Skid Row every Sunday to hand out single dollar bills to needy people, and, on holidays, upped the denomination to 20 or even 100 dollar bills depending on what people needed. He'd been giving away cash for more than 30 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Although he preached in the city every Sunday, he "was a fixture on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles on holidays such as Easter and Thanksgiving. The homeless and poor would line up for blocks..."
He told the Los Angeles Daily News that he could see the effects of the economic downturn: "We see more couples, more families," Chase said. "The recession has had an impact. We have to deal with it. The church said we must have a preferential option for the poor."NPR's Jacob Soboroff asked Chase about the wisdom of just giving money to people, since it could be used to buy food or drugs. Chase didn't care. He said what mattered was letting people know they weren't invisible and that they were loved by God. He wasn't afraid of potential trouble. Still, an L.A. police officer quietly stood nearby in case of problems.
Father Chase was a former assistant to the president of Loyola Marymount University. The Times says he helped fund his charity with donations from Bob Newhart, Delores Hope and other celebrities.