Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Too Much Baggage: A Story in Ministry

by Sister Liz Sjoberg, D.C.

I work in the overnight emergency program at Marygrove, an agency in St. Louis that serves abused, neglected and homeless children and teens. The kids we see in our program are ones experiencing a major crisis, such so that they cannot live in their family home or foster home anymore. Their stories are heartbreaking and dark.

They come with a lot of baggage and we try to be a place where they can just lay it down, even if it's only for a few days or a couple weeks. I see Christ in them: Jesus who had to flee to Egypt, Jesus who had "nowhere to lay his head," Jesus whose friends left him all alone. This is the suffering Christ. And he walks through our doors at Marygrove every day.

One of the girls at Marygrove shared poems she wrote about her experiences. We'll be sharing three of them over the next couple of weeks. Please keep Marygrove and the children we serve in your prayers.

Too Much Baggage

Home to home, family to family
no one knows how much it emotionally damages me.
Every family admits they don't want me
I just wish I was what everyone wanted me to be.
I drive myself away from everyone
every family ends up saying, "I'm just done."
I ruin everything I have going for me, and in the future I'll finally see
it's always my fault, it's always me.
I cannot change, this fact is true
I'll just ruin more lives with the things I do.
Everyone has baggage but mine must be too heavy
I'll just have to grow used to the fact that no one wants me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sharing an Energy for Life

Travelers packed the Basilica for Mass at the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
(Courtesy of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton)
More than 3,000 visitors stopped by the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on their way to or from the March for Life 2015 in Washington, D.C., last week.

Sister Anne Marie Lamoureux, D.C., who serves at the Shrine in Emmitsburg, Md., described the flurry of pilgrims as a "beautiful energy."

"I know the church is in good hands," Sister said. "They all had such a positive energy. It left me happy and hopeful."

Sister Anne Marie said travelers came from all over the country, from Omaha, to Florida and Louisiana, to 16 busloads of Bostonians.

"I'm so thankful for all of them and for their high respect for life," she said.
Visitors filing in to the Basilica at the Shrine.
(Courtesy of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sister Irma's Dream

The following was written by Sister Irma Vargas, D.C., for The Lord's Call, a publication of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

When I was 8 years old my godmother took me to see a movie called "The Nun's Story." I was so struck with the Sister and amazed at how lovingly she tended to the people in Africa she was serving. When I got home I told my mother that I was going to be a Sister and be a missionary. My mother told me, "No, you can't be a Sister because Sisters are holy and you are not yet holy because you are always fighting with your brothers and sister."

Although I was not happy with her response, through the years, I kept it in my heart.

Growing up here in San Antonio, I had boyfriends in high school like everyone else, and dated in college. Then I went to work for Dr. Tom O'Brien, M.D., who brought my dream back to life. Around the time when Archbishop Oscar Romero was martyred, Dr. O'Brien made me aware of what was going on in El Salvador and other countries. He had me, as a translator, go with him to do physicals for refugees from Guatemala and El Salvador who were on their way to Canada or Australia, where they would be accepted.

He also took me with him to work at St. Phillip's Clinic, where I was also a translator. My first encounter with Sisters was there at St. Phillip's Clinic. I kept my distance. Soon I discovered they were Daughters of Charity. I still kept my distance. I noticed though how one had such a beautiful smile, a sense of happiness in how she served. And she wore tennis shoes! I liked that!

Then one day Sister Dorothea asked me to go with some volunteers to get pizza. I went, thinking it was just a social event. After chatting a while over our pizza, she invited us to think about becoming a Daughter of Charity. I said, "This is not for me." Sister Dorothea gently responded, "Just stay and listen." The others were so I interested that I thought they were signing up right then!

In the following days Sister Dorothea occasionally invited me to several diocesan vocation events or to come to the Sisters' house to visit. I always responded that my car had something wrong with it so I could not go. Another time some of the volunteers were going to St. Louis for an event for young women. Sister Genevieve asked me if I was interested. Oh, no, I was not!

Later at the office, Dr. O'Brien asked me if I was going. I responded, "No. I don't have the plane fare."

"I'll pay it," he said.

I continued to protest, "I can't take the time off."

"I'll give you the time off."

So I agreed. During the flight, I figured if there was no one at the airport to meet me then I'd just go right back home. At the airport in St. Louis, I heard my name paged! Sister Kieran was waiting for me with the others who had already arrived. When we walked into the Provincial House, I was surprised to discover that I felt at home!

After the closing Mass, Sister Kieran called me aside and gave me a brown envelope and said to me, "I believe you have a vocation. Think about it. The application is in the envelope."

I went home and put it under my bed. It stayed there for two years. It must have been the Holy Spirit who urged me to finally send it in.

There were seven of us in formation together. We were all professional women who had careers, cars, bank accounts, etc. I was amazed at how we let go of them for the bigger mission of serving God in those living in poverty. Our prayer life and our living in common sustained us. We also supported one another in our various ministries.

My mom has always had a deep love for St. Vincent de Paul. Was it any wonder that I would join the very community that he and St. Louise de Marillac founded! A missionary community!

Being a missionary had always been my dream. But I have not gone to another country. I have learned, however, that we, the Daughters of Charity, are missionaries by nature. Serving Christ in persons who are poor, wherever they are, is our charism, our passion. So I am actually living not only my own dream, but God's dream for me, implanted in me so many years ago.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 Things We Loved About 2014

We are looking forward to 2015 being the best year yet. As we pray for the future, we're looking back on the positive things from 2014. With so much suffering, trials, devastation and heartache, it's important to remember the Lord's joys and victories. Let's not forget!

What was your favorite moment from 2014? Here are some of ours:
  1. Three Sisters entered seminary in the United States! Sisters Jenna, Georgina and Truc are now Daughters of Charity!
  2. Two Sisters were missioned for the first time. Sisters Amanda and Whitney embarked on their first ministry assignment as Daughters of Charity.
  3. Pope Francis announced 2015 would be the Year of Consecrated Life. We're celebrating all throughout the year! See what people are saying about #YCL2015

  4. This "Happy" video we made
  5. Our Provincial Assembly brought us all together to talk about the serious stuff and have a bit of fun in between!
  6. National Catholic Sisters Week premiered, and we're getting ready to do it again in March.

  7. We hosted six more Holy Hangouts on YouTube, and had a great time. Here's to many more!
  8. We were a part of more than 20 discernment retreats and events this year. We already have a good bunch planned for 2015.
  9. Our new vocations website launched! We'll keep adding new stuff to help you on your discernment journey. Let us know what helps!
  10. We now have more than 60 lay vocation promoters helping us out. What a blessing!
We are thankful for everyone we have come in contact with this year, from our discerners to fellow Sisters to the people we serve each day. Praying for God's blessings this new year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Community at the Manger

Sister Mary Frate, D.C., serves at St. Jude Parish in Tuba City, Ariz., on the Navajo Reservation. Sister shares her thoughts about the nativity scene.

Like the silhouette at the left, most nativity scenes picture Mary, Joseph and the newborn Jesus alone in the Bethlehem stable. But recently I read a conference (by Patrick Griffin, CM) that posed this question: Would Mary and Joseph have been the only poor family traveling to Bethlehem that night for whom there was no room in the inn? Might that stable have been crowded with other poor families coming to Bethlehem to register who had nowhere else to stay?

Picture the scene with a community of poor people sharing their meager resources with each other and being among the first to be blessed by Jesus! This is a powerful image that underscores the importance of community, whether it be friends helping friends or strangers reaching out to each other.

Here at St. Jude's we are aware that we are blessed as a community: a community of Navajo, Hopi, Anglo, Filipino, Hispanic people who gather each Sunday around the Eucharist, and find many ways to reach out to the poor among and around us. We are also blessed by a wider community that stretches in all directions across the United States. A community–many of whom we have never met–reaching out to us to share time, talent and treasure with us so we, in turn, can continue to reach out the poor among and around us.