Monday, March 29, 2010

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Sr. Bernadete Mackay shares a view from her corner of creation...

Affectionately they call me Sister Bernie. Mission is my life. I spend most of my time living and working with marginalized communities in the Central Mountain Range of the Dominican Republic. Life is simple there.. There is no electricity. Water flows about twice a week. Roads! What are these we ask? But yes, it is a blessed place. Spectacular views of mountains, plains, hydro-electric dams, grazing animals, freshly planted beans etc. etc. where between God and I there is only the clouds. What more can I ask for? This place has been home to me for almost twenty years. Your visit would be welcomed! When I am not in ‘paradise’ I live in Orlando, Florida. I am happy to be part of the wonderful family of Ursuline, whose vision and scope allows us all to embrace the world from wherever we are planted.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Importance of Reading

Last night before I went to bed, I picked up the March 22nd edition of America Magazine which is published by the Jesuits of the United States. Always on the back cover of the magazine, there is a commentary titled “Of Many Things” and one of the editors discusses a concern, issue or story.

This time, Karen Sue Smith discusses reading. She speaks about her love of reading and the fact that she received that enduring gift from a teacher. In the commentary, she mentions how teachers used to read aloud to her in school. Plus she describes how reading changed her life because it sparked her interest and involvement in issues and helped her be aware of a bigger world.

That made me reflect again on how important literacy is in our society. We must work harder to make sure more people in our society can read and write. It is so necessary.

I am teaching a course at Fordham University titled Children’s Literature in Multicultural Classrooms. Each week I meet with undergraduate and graduate students and we discuss the importance of good literature and how it can help expand a child’s mind and expose him or her to other realities and make connections to his or her life. I think I’ll share this commentary with them next time we meet as a way to encourage them to keep working toward their goal of being a teacher.

Sr. Jeannie Humphries, osu

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Visit to Washington DC

Yesterday, Sunday, March 21, 2010, I traveled to Washington DC from Wilmington DE. I wanted to be present as the historic vote on health care reform took place. My brother Peter, a congressman from Vermont, promised me a place in the gallery.

The day was far more than I dreamed. I have a kaleidoscope of images. Arriving early I hopped on the metro at Union Station to have a brief visit with my nephew Ed, his wife and young baby. Edison was so alert and responsive, no longer the quiet newborn at my last visit.

Again I traveled by metro to the Smithsonian. This time the metro was filled with those attending the immigration rally on the Mall - one man with an American flag draped around his body; many others with signs and placards, all were making their way to that gathering.

At the Smithsonian I visited the “Women in Spirit” exhibit. This is a wonderful display of the story of women religious in the United States. More on that at another time but what I carried with me was the line. “We came to work with those on the margins…”
And I walked out of the exhibit to witness the thousands living on the margins now rallying together for immigration reform.

Another metro ride this time to the capitol. I sat next to a man from New York who had participated in the rally along with family and friends. Each had a sticker, “Faith needed for immigration reform.”

Outside, the capitol was raucous with shouting – those not supporting the health care bill and those who did. I managed to connect with Peter and spent time just shadowing him, listening to his news conferences, meeting his colleagues and experience close up what is happening behind the scenes during this historic day. Peter delighted in sharing that I was a sister and in return so many thanked us for the LCWR position. I was in the gallery listening as the debate on the bill finally began, after all those on procedure. A congresswoman from California began by thanking the religious sisters in the United States for their support. Later Peter introduced me to her and she said quietly, “We are all the Body of Christ.”

Finally it was time to leave. The taxi driver asked me if the bill had passed. I replied not yet, but they did have the votes. We talked about health care and as I got out at Union Station he thanked me for caring about people like him and health care - the people at the margins teaching me.

I arrived home in Wilmington in time to watch the actual vote. My prayer that night was Angela’s: may God who has begun this work bring it to completion.

Sr. Maureen Welch, osu

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"You're the one who receives the new life."

Most of my Ursuline life has been spent as a practicing midwife, and mostly in New York City Hospitals and clinics in the Bronx. It has been a wonderful life of caring for women and their children, delivering their babies, watching their families grow, sharing in their struggles as new immigrants, striving to find their way in a strange culture.

Midwifery is a wonderful profession. It can be practiced in a large, state-of-the-art hospital or in a dirt hut in a third world country. ( I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to do both.) Babies come the same way everywhere – and believe it or not they even come if we’re not there to help them (and the mother) along!

One of my most memorable moments was with an African woman whom I was caring for in Lincoln Hospital. “Oh,” she said in a way I will never forget. “You’re the one who receives the new life.” ‘Yes,” I said, almost blown away by the concept. I don’t deliver the baby; I receive the new life. And that has been my vision of my work for the many years since that wisdom was imparted to me, woman to woman, bonded in the empowering act of giving birth.

After a life time of working in packed clinics, managing busy labor floors and learning to say “push” in a variety of languages I have stepped back from the day to day of midwifery practice. I now go out from the hospital in a mobile van, offering free services to uninsured woman.

Three days a week we rumble through the street of the Bronx, most often to sites that have booked us for mammograms, but sometimes just parked on busy streets, like the merchants, hawking our wares. Women climb on the van, most weary, all happy to get the health care that has become so costly without insurance.

As I welcome the women on the van, it seems I have seen their faces all my life. And as I look, I keep looking for that one special face that so many years ago helped me to know what it means to be a midwife.

Sr. Maureen McCarthy, osu

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

The Ursulines want to wish all a Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

May the luck of the Irish be with you now and always.

Beannachtaí na Féile Páraic oraibh!

"Blessings of St. Patrick's Day upon ye!"

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Go beyond your border"

At our last General Chapter, Roman Union Ursulines throughout the world were encouraged to “go beyond their borders”; i.e., to be agents of reconciliation and communion in our often embattled and divided world.

For many years my work has been pastoral care of the sick and dying, with Board Certification in the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. But what about the broader world of Pastoral Care of the Sick? Was there an invitation for me to enlarge my view, to cross a border even in some small way?

With that thought in mind, I spent an evening at Tibet House in Manhattan with a group of people who were engaged either professionally or non-professionally in caring for the sick, the elderly, the dying, and the physically and mentally challenged. They were all associated in some way with a recently formed Buddhist Group, the Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

We prayed silently together; the leader of the group gave a short conference or “teaching”; and then we spoke with one another, sharing our experience and seeking one another’s support and help. We closed with a brief prayer and ritual, wishing one another well until our next meeting.

As I rode the subway home, I was certain that St. Angela would have been very much at home at Tibet House!

Sr. Pascal Conforti