Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Responding to the Call at the Border

Sister Mary Ellen stands with donations of papooses
for young mothers at the border. More than
100 donations were received within two weeks.
Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, D.C., shares about her time serving at the border this summer. 

In spring, I was asked to attend a human trafficking conference. I was haunted by the ease with which a trafficker eyes his victim and cajoles her to follow him into a nightmare. Afterward, I was asked to present human trafficking legislation at the Daughters of Charity Provincial Assembly. As I prepared, I included federal protections for trafficked as well as unaccompanied children.

Like most immigration advocates, I was monitoring the increasing numbers of kids at the border and my concern had been growing. I wanted everyone to know there were established protections for these kids so Sisters might be able to guide them properly. By June, unaccompanied kids were in the news everywhere and I feared they would be ripe for traffickers. I prayed we would respond with the generosity of the Poor.

At our Assembly, some Sisters put up a sign for anyone who wanted to attend an ad hoc meeting regarding the children. About 70 Sisters sacrificed their chance to socialize, rest or take in the sights of St. Louis. They wanted to talk about helping these kids. We shared knowledge about the issue, established an email list and resolved to continue the discussion. Almost 20 volunteered to be sent to Texas that week. Sister Isabel called Catholic Charities in El Paso and was told we could put volunteers in a holding pattern. Things seemed to be under control.

After the Assembly, the group exchanged emails about happenings down south and different service opportunities. We kept our community council aware of our prayers, dreams and ideas. Within two weeks, three of us were granted the initial privilege of going to the border to serve in various ministries. We left within 72 hours of appointment of our posts of service.

I'm in awe by the ease with which God eyes the Daughters and cajoles them to follow Him, once again, onto a road less travelled, to realize the dream of sweet charity and divine justice for His Poor.

I was assigned to live in Harlingen, Texas, to work at a legal assistance clinic for immigrants. My other companions, Sister Sherry and Sister Janina, ministered at the shelter in McAllen. They served as interpreters and companions to young families. As usual, we were sent to serve the Poor and, as usual, we met Jesus every day.

We gathered information, prayed and waited until we came to believe it was time to act. When one mother was not allowed to have one of her three children stay with her because she couldn't afford an extra bed, I told her story and was overwhelmed by the number of people willing to give her money to buy one. Amazing things happen when you embrace the Spirit's momentum and allow Providence to be your guide. God wanted all three of us there so He paved the way. We just had to walk the road He laid. When we did, we experienced that familiar gratitude and peace that follows true surrender to His will.

Want to serve at the border with us? Join us for Vocation Border Immersion in El Paso Jan. 3-8, 2015

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hands and Feet of Christ

Michelle Hoffman is a discerner with the Daughters of Charity. She shares what has been integral to her discernment journey. Please join us in praying for Michelle as she discerns God's call.

As I have been discerning my call to religious life, a song by Matthew West called "Do Something" has really stopped me in my tracks.

There are days I wake up and think about all the problems in our world and why God lets those things happen. If I want to make a difference in the world then I need to stand up and "do something."

That's exactly what I got to do for a week with the Daughters of Charity on the Search and Serve retreat in East St. Louis, Ill.

During this week we spent time in prayer and reflection but also got to "do something" about the problems of this world. We served at St. Vincent de Paul Parish where we truly saw a variety of Vincentians working together serving lunch and dinner to the poor, making care packages for the homeless and giving away clothing. We also visited social service agencies, cleaned a bus transformed into a good truck for the homeless, and visited and cleaned a women's shelter.

Michelle (center) serves with Martha (left) and Cynthia (right)
at a women's shelter during Search and Serve 2014.
It was great to see people every day "doing something" to alleviate some of the pain in this world. This one week helped me open my eyes that I want to do more than I have been to serve the poor because, yes, one week helps, but it's an everyday problem. I want to be part of the solution and do something instead of doing nothing.

Through my discernment journey I have been looking for a religious order that serves the poor in many different ways. The Daughters truly embody service to the poor in everything they do. Through this week I saw how the Vincentian charism is lived out, not only through Daughters of Charity but through the Congregation of the Mission, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Ladies of Charity. Those who embody this charism show dignity and care to each person they come in contact with, just like they are meeting Jesus. I know now I am being called to "do something" with my life by applying to become a Daughter of Charity.

Who wants to change the world with me? Together, with Christ, we can change the world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vincentian Family Members Join Us for Our Next Holy Hangout

It's important to work together toward a common goal, and we are blessed to have brothers and sisters in the Vincentian Family as part of our team!

For our next live chat on YouTube, Holy Hangout will feature some members of that team as we all talk about our collaboration to serve the poor together. This is a great time to ask questions about our charism and different projects and efforts we take part in to help each other help others.

Our panel includes:

  • Father Memo Campuzano, C.M.
  • Sister Mary Frate, D.C.
  • Karen Hawkins, Society of St. Vincent de Paul/affiliate
  • Father Jay Jung, C.M.
  • Sister Elizabeth Riddell, D.C.
Ask questions on our Facebook Page or by using #HolyHangoutDC on Twitter, and we'll answer them live on YouTube Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. CDT! If you can't join us, the conversation will be available on our YouTube channel.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Welcome, Sisters Georgina, Jenna and Truc!

A hearty welcome to the Daughters of Charity to the U.S.'s newest Sisters! Three of our Postulants became Sisters on the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul last weekend, appropriately.

Sister Georgina and Sister Truc were incorporated into the Company in the Province of the West. They're making their way to St. Louis for Seminary!

Sister Jenna is now a member of the Province of St. Louise and will join her two new Sisters for Seminary.

We're praying for you, Sisters! Your smiles and hearts have already brought joy to many of us.

>See more photos on our Facebook Page.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learning So Much

Sister Mary Louise Stubbs is a Daughter of Charity and executive director of Daughters of Charity International Project Services. She shares a bit about what she does and what she's learned since joining the ministry.

You never know what adventuresome ministry you'll be invited to as a Daughter of Charity!

On a cold February day, seven months ago, I began my orientation to Daughters of Charity International Project Services. This "program" is essentially a "back office service" for the Daughters on an international level--working with the Econome (treasurer) Generale to help find resources for the ministries of Sisters in developing and impoverished countries.

There is a small but mighty DCIPS team, well prepared by the expertise and organizational skills of my predecessor, Sister Felicia, who continue to teach and support me. What we do is basically simple: Daughters of Charity in eligible countries assess the needs and goals of the people they serve, identify what would be helpful in their service and apply for assistance. Our team then seeks money from donors and foundations to fund those projects and receives reports on their progress.

...and I have learned so much.

I've learned leadership can come from anywhere with a swift flexibility that responds to looming and diverse needs. For the Sisters working in extreme poverty situations, "systemic change at the grassroots level" is a reality, not just a platitude. The local people and Sisters identify the needs and their vision and then they create inventive responses on the local level which often are models for global approaches to the vectors of poverty.

DCIPS is privileged to be a conduit for resources for such projects. My first few months here have revealed it is a small world after all! I've met Daughters of Charity from around the world (via email and web) and shared their realities and goals by helping them address the needs of their ministries.

From our humble office in Southfield, Mich., we witness issues such as people in West Africa crippled with fear of the deadly Ebola virus; handicapped children captive in their wheelchairs during rocket assaults; women without prenatal care whose babies are born with preventable health issues; refugees living on the streets without basic necessities; devastating natural disasters; lack of access to effective and proven medical prevention and treatment; young girls forced into early marriages; slave labor and harmful traditional practices that violate their rights and their bodies; and children who die because they do not have food, clean water or the most basic health care.

What I now see is change happening around the world very rapidly and that each of us have opportunities to be a part of activities that will produce positive outcomes. This isn't the time to watch and wait, because action is needed now. Resources and support are needed right now--and prayer is needed for its power to unite people globally and to both decrease human suffering and increase human potential.

On behalf of our Sisters and the people in countries who work continually to rise above harsh difficulties, the IPS team invites you, your family and friends to join in prayer and support for issues and projects found on our website.

All photos courtesy of Daughters of Charity International Project Services