Wednesday, December 29, 2010
One of my biggest disappointments in 2010 was the failure of Congress to pass the Dream Act. Hundreds of thousands of young adults who arrived in the United States with their parents as small children will continue to live in a state of limbo.
They are culturally USA. Their accent is American. I can think of so many who speak with a Southern drawl. They are forced to live in the shadows because of a decision their parents made many years ago. A decision that was supposedly for their benefit!
Many of these young adults have completed college, but cannot practice the career they prepared for because they don’t have the proper documents. Many are working at menial jobs and paying income tax. Yes, paying income tax. If one does not have the proper immigration documents he or she can apply to the Internal Revenue Service for a tax ID number and pay taxes. Many of these young people and their parents and other undocumented persons are also paying into Social Security, keeping it afloat, and presently have no possibility of ever receiving the benefits.
During these days when we read of Mary and Joseph’s flight into Egypt with their newborn, protecting him from Herod’s slaughter, let’s pray for the parents and children who have had to flee their countries for political, economic or other reasons. I hope that you will encourage people you know to learn more about this bill and encourage your representatives in Congress to support it.
For more information please click to read Archbishop Gomez’s statement on the Dream Act as well as the Justice for Immigrants website.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
On Sunday the Church entered into the Advent Season. It is also the beginning of a new Liturgical Year.
Advent is known as the season of waiting. Perhaps some of you have been waiting to see if I would ever resume this blog! I do apologize for the delay. I think I can count on my two hands the days I’ve been home in the last two months. I’m looking forward to a long stretch at home this time (well, sort of!)
On Sunday the Pope in his Angelus address gave some interesting points on Advent that I’d like to share with you.
He said he wanted “to reflect on the theme of ‘waiting’ because it involves a profoundly human reality in which the faith becomes, so to say, completely one with our flesh and our heart.
Our whole personal, familial and social existence passes through this dimension of waiting. Waiting is something that is present in a thousand situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important, which draw us in completely and in the deepest way. Among these, we think of a husband and wife waiting for a child; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; …of waiting for a letter, or of receiving forgiveness.
Every one of us, therefore, especially in this season in which we prepare for Christmas can ask himself or herself: What am I waiting for? For what in this moment of my life, does my heart long? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for, together? What unifies our aspirations, what do they have in common? In the time before Jesus’ birth the expectation of the Messiah—that is, of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would have finally liberated the people from every moral and political slavery and have founded the
What are you waiting for, what are you longing for this Advent?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
As a student of the Old Testament my ears perked up when I heard the word idol. Throughout the prophetic literature we hear about the Israelites' constant struggle with idols, their forgetting who was their God.
In the Book of Jeremiah we hear, "goldsmiths are all put to shame by their idols; for their images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion (Jer 19, 14b-15a).
Each age has its idols. Each one of us has his or her own idols, works of delusion, things that satisfy only temporarily. These are constant struggles, perhaps our addictions. For some it's money, for others consumerism, and then, of course, there's food, alcohol, television, computer, and for some, perfection, a true delusion.
Today we are invited to ask ourselves, "who or what is number one in my life?". We might also ask "who or what has my energy"?
What do you think are the most common idols in 2010?
Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian were longtime friends. Both agreed that those who had denied their faith and out of their fear worshipped idols should be forgiven; however, all in the Church were not of the same mind. Perhaps there was resentment among the families of those of those died for their faith, that others should deny the faith and then be readmitted. Pope St. Cornelius held a Synod in Rome in 252 and ordered the relapsed to be restored to the faith with the usual "medicines of repentance."
Idols and forgiveness. Two issues in the 3rd century. Two issues in the 21st century!
I think I'll be paying more attention to these two saints!
Monday, September 13, 2010
Tomorrow is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. It is also the anniversary of my entrance to the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. My classmates and I often wondered what God had in store for us, giving us a feast of the Cross for our entrance day. Our Novice Director later reminded us that is the TRIUMPH of the Cross. This is a big one, since I entered in 1980, it is 30 years. In many ways it seems like yesterday. I ask myself where the time has gone, then I remember all the places I've lived as a Missionary Sister!
I have been conscious of this anniversary all year. Perhaps I mentioned to a friend that this would be my thirtieth year in the Community. Before I knew it in January Kathy was gathering together our mutual friends in her home for a celebration and reunion. Most of us were medical technologists who had worked together. Because of all the moving it has been difficult to keep in touch, but we were able to pick up as if we had seen each other just yesterday. Those are good friends! That was a great way to begin the thirtieth year in the Congregation.
One doesn't persevere on her own! It takes God, of course, and many others. I am truly grateful for the support of my Community. As a Vocation and Formation Director, I am most grateful to my Formators and Vocation Director who put up with me in the moments of doubt and the early years of adjustment to Religious Life. My family, my sisters Margaret and Fran have stood by me through it all. God has placed many "companions on the journey" in my path who continue to remind me of His love and care.
Even though my "job" these days is to encourage women to enter Religious Life and to walk with them as they begin, some people ask me if I would do it again or even if I feel Religious Life has a future. This puzzles me, especially when I think of how in this way of life I've seen God's love revealed to me and to others in the most profound ways. I think apostolic religious life is a marvelous way to grow in the love of God and offers us the ability to express this love in diverse ways, and to invite others to the same regardless of their "calling".
I continue to be inspired by the Sisters in my Community in their commitment to prayer, their missionary spirit, their dedication and their care for one another.
In these past several years I've had the opportunity and privilege to work with Religious of other Congregations in Vocation and Formation projects and programs, and have come to appreciate all we share in common, as well as the great respect for one another's Charisms. Frankly, I just can't understand why people aren't knocking down our doors to join us in this great adventure!
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
This retreat was developed by Frs. Vincent Finnerty, CM and Jesus Guadarrama, CM. when the three of us worked in Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Charlotte. Father Finnerty was the Diocesan Director and Fr. Jesus was a layman on the team at the time. I had just arrived from almost eight years in Mexico and was soon made responsible for the women's retreats.
Last year through a stroke of Providence, Fr. Jesus and I were both in Philadelphia, so we were asked to begin the women's retreats here. We had our first retreat last September.
Our own Sister Maria Lauren who is part of the Archdiocesan (Phila) Hispanic Ministry Team and I worked with the women on the Team before the Retreat and were Spiritual Guides during the retreat. We were fortunate to have four priests for Confessions and two who also accompanied us throughout the retreat.
For me one of the joys was seeing the fruits of Sister Maria Lauren's missionary labors during her time in South Philadelphia in the women on the retreat. It was obvious how deeply she has touched their lives.
The theme of the retreat was the Woman at the Well (John 4). She was a model for the women to see that no matter what has happened in our lives Our Lord will never reject us. He forgives us, sets us free, and having experienced this love and forgiveness, he calls us to be missionairies, inviting others to experience the same.
Some of the women on the Team have had little formal education, yet they and the conferences they gave were powerful witnesses to the action of God in their lives. They invited the retreatants to experience this same power in their lives.
When the retreat was finished the women got on a bus and headed to South Philadelphia where many of them live and were received by their families who were anxiously waiting to receive these New and Renewed Women.
Sister Sara is just one of several Sisters in the Congregation beginning new missions. The same scene has been repeated with Sisters Susanne, Marie and Jane and Mary Ann. Please keep them and all the other Religious Sisters who are experiencing new beginnings at this time of the year in your prayers.
Friday, August 6, 2010
I just thought I'd give a little background on Chimalhuacan. It is in the State of Mexcio, but considered to be part of Metropolitan Area of Mexico City. In fact, when I was returning by metro and bus to Chimalhuacan from Mexico City, I followed the signs that said "autobuses suburbanos" (suburban buses). Let me tell you the word suburban took on a whole new meaning for me! When I think suburb, I tend to think tree-lined streets, front lawns, you get the picture. Chimalhuacan would shatter any preconceived notions of the word suburb. It is an area of close to one million people. It is built on what was once a lake. It has become heavily populated in recent years as people left rural areas of Mexico seeking jobs and better educational opportunities for their children. In fact, one encounters a similar population in Chimalhuacan to what I found in southeast Alabama, people from the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla. As families settled in Chimalhuacan, the government provided the land and the people constructed the houses. Since there was little money to begin with, the houses as you will see are very humble and simple. Chimalhuacan is very close to the "basureros", the garbage dumps. One of the saddest sights you will see are shacks made out of carton which house people who make their livelihood going through the dumps. What we consider garbage is a big industry in Chimalhuacan. Nothing is so deteriorated that it can't be repaired!
I'm attaching a power point presentation with photos of Chimalhuacan. I'm sorry I didn't get the very busy business districts with modern stores, and that the weather didn't cooperate either. On the outskirts of Chimalhuacan, you'll see globalization in action with many stores that you'd find in a U.S. mall. (That's a story for another day!) My intention with these photos is not to paint a bleak picture, but in order you might capture the resilience of a people for whom hope gushes through their veins, not a plastic or dreamy hope, but one that enables them, in spite of many adverse conditions, to get up every day and forge ahead for a better life for themselves and their children, and even for people they don't really know. Chimalhuacan is a place that is fertile ground for drugs and violence among those who haven't learned to hope. I am very proud of our Church and my religious community, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. Both serve as beacons of hope for this strong and beautiful people. Please click here
Friday, July 30, 2010
In most religious communities it is the practice to have young women who are in Temporary Vows have some annual input regarding spirituality, religious life, etc. This summer Sister Janet returned to the Motherhouse from her mission in Hispanic Ministry in Alabama for a workshop with Brother Loughlan Sofield, ST on Conflict in Community. "Conflict in a Religious Community"? you might ask. Well just in case it happens! The truth is wherever two or more are gathered, sooner or later there's bound to be some conflict. That's part of the human condition. Brother Loughlan, from our Brother Community is a world famous presenter on issues regarding Community Life, and has written books on the topic as well as others on collaboration in ministry. He provided these young women with skills they need not only within their community life but in their ministry and other dealings as well.
Sister Janet was joined by our own Sister Christine who recently professed final vows as well as several Sisters of the Holy Redeemer. They are some of the "few good women" who have listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their lives and know that religious life in community is a wonderful way of living out the gift of one's life, growing in holiness and serving God's people.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It is hard to believe that my time in Mexico has ended. In some ways it feels like three months rather than almost three weeks since I left our Cenacle in Philadelphia. The time was so full with many memorable experiences. I'll spend the next few days sharing some of them as well as some of the many photos I took.
I left a bit exhausted, well, more than a bit, but truly blest and exhilarated by the experience and so proud of the beautiful work our Sisters are doing in this mission. Sister Maria has more than 1500 children in her religious education program and works with at least 75 catechists, and that's only part of her work! Sister Grace directs the many aspects of the social ministry of the mission. Both Sisters are involved in Evangelization efforts and leadership development, and both generously found time to work in these "extra" programs this past week and accompanied the young women and myself in the Mission Week, eating, praying, reflecting and working (not necessarily in that order!). Who could ask for more??!!
(I just couldn't get these photos in order. The first one is from the air looking down at Mexico City. You get an idea of how densely populated this City is.)
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
At 6 a m. yesterday I left our Cenacle in
As I was heading South, Sr. Olivia was heading North. She was returning to
As for myself, I’m looking forward to several exciting weeks here in
Sunday, June 27, 2010
St. Maria Goretti is the patron of adolescent girls and vocations. She was the victim of an attempted sexual assault. She resisted her attacker and he began stabbing her with a knife, but what is truly important is that she forgave him, even beyond her death! Alexander rejected her forgiveness until one night he had a dream that he was in a garden and she gave him flowers. When he awoke, he was a changed man. He repented of his crime and reformed his life. Twenty seven years later he was released from prison, and was in the crowd at St. Peter's to celebrate her canonization. Maria Goretti truly mirrored the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Crazy by this world's standards, but our ideal as Christians. That's the reason "love like crazy" is on the T-shirts we received.
The girls were in the sixth through eighth grades and made a deep impression on all the adults with their great spirit, their devotion and their interest and enthusiasm for all the activities of the day.
They had opportunities for Mass, Confession, arts and crafts, outdoor games and, of course, several conferences. They also had time to ask the Sisters anything they wanted to know about us and our Communities. The questions ranged from, "how long does it take to become a Sister?" or "how did you know this life was for you?" to "what's your favorite TV program?".
You could tell that as young as they are these girls are already thinking about life choices. It's never too soon to do that! My hope is that each one will continue to think, pray and reflect on how she is going to spend the great treasure that is her life so that she can serve God and God's people in the way that is best for her. One Sister put it so well when she said, "I believe this is where I can be the best me".
And isn't all of life like this to some extent? We need to continue to ask ourselves every day, "where and how I can best serve God and God's people today and in the days and months and years ahead". That's part of "loving like crazy". It's never too late to do that!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
On March 25, 2010, Sister Christine Ma, MSBT professed Perpetual Vows as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity at the Community's Motherhouse in Northeast Philadelphia.
Sister Christine was born in Hong Kong, and is the youngest of five children. She came to the United States with her mother and sister when she was ten years old. They were soon joined by her father and brothers.
Sister Christine's parents were originally from mainland China. Not allowed to have a Bible in China, Sister Christine's mother, Sun Tai, said that when she arrived in Hong Kong the first thing she would do would be to obtain a Bible, and then she would choose a religion. Sun Tai was drawn toward the Catholic
Church. Eventually, Sister Christine's father, Yim Kwai, and other family members also embraced the Catholic Faith.
After about twelve years in Hong Kong, in order to have a better future for their children, Yim Kwai and Sun Tai decided to immigrate to New York.
Sister Christine received a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from Pace University in New York. Before entering the Missionary Servants she worked as an accountant for the City of New York.
Sister Thomasmari Gore, MSBT, a Trinitarian Sister who was a campus minister at New York University, regularly met with a group of women, one of whom was a friend of the future Sister Christine and invited her to join the group. Sister Thomasmari later invited Christine to meet the Sisters who lived with her on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Sisters were also involved with the Trinita Summer Family Life Program at the Congregation's mission in Connecticut. They invited her to be a volunteer the following summer. This program offers inner city families an opportunity to be away together in a joyful atmosphere and to explore ways to improve their family relationships. Having enjoyed this experience so much, she then volunteered for a year at St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in Camden, N.J. where she worked as a computer lab teacher. At a mid-year retreat for volunteers one of the Sisters asked her if she had ever considered Religious Life. That Sister's question sparked something in Christine which led her to explore religious life, and especially the Missionary Servants.
To pursue her new vocation, Sister Christine spent a year of discernment in Pensacola, FL where she lived and worked with the Sisters in Catholic Social Services. Other years of her Formation included parish ministry in Rock Hill, SC, prison and nursing home ministry in Mobile, AL as well as parish and school ministry in Kingston, Jamaica.
Sister Christine just completed a program for Clinical Pastoral Education at Albert Einstein and Holy Redeemer Hospitals in Philadelphia.
Sister Christine is grateful to be called to live her entire life glorifying the Triune God as a Missionary Servant of the Most Blessed Trinity. Sister Christine with her family
(Portrait photo by Carl Casella, Phila, PA)
Thursday, May 27, 2010
We had a surprise visit from Sister Audrey, our Motherhouse Coordinator, the other day. Sister Audrey is responsible for the Sisters who live in the building that we call the Motherhouse. Our infirmary is in that building. Many of the Sisters who are no longer in active ministry, but are assigned to the Ministry of Prayer also live there. It is where we who live in the Mother Boniface building attend Mass and have some of our meals. It is a hub of activity, and Sister Audrey, a registered nurse, has a lot of responsibility and is a very busy woman.
So, what a surprise to see her walk in to our Cenacle with this gorgeous fruit basked which she had made herself, starting with spray painting the basket. The green is kale. The leaves are from the pineapples. Some of the fruit was held in place with peanut butter! Sr. Audrey's creativity knows no bounds.
The reason for this delectable delight? In January Sister Olivia and I gave a presentation on our Vocation/Formation Program to the Sisters in the Motherhouse. Sr. Audrey had been looking for a way to express their gratitude. A great cook and baker, she was told that "they are always on diets, but they do like fruit"! Imagine! It didn't take too long for us to demolish this basket. Thanks a million, Audrey for this "labor of love"!
Monday, May 24, 2010
Rather than "start at the very beginning" like Maria in the Sound of Music, I think I'll work backwards beginning with last week's vocation discernment retreat in Chimalhuacan, Mexico.
We were a small group of four retreatants and myself. Sisters Maria and Grace Raymond joined us when they were able. Weekends are a very busy time in parishes, and Sister Maria had several First Communion and Confirmation retreats that weekend. However, what seemed to missing in numbers was more than compensated for in enthusiasm.
We talked about decision making and discernment in general. All were in agreement that each day is full of decisions to be made and no decision is inconsequential.
We also talked about how to maintain our spiritual lives. Two great tools are Lectio Divina and the evening Examen. We reviewed and practiced both of these wonderful spiritual exercises.
Please pray for these wonderful young women who made this retreat that Lord bring to completion what He has begun in them.
The video sidebar contains pictures of this weekend.