Saturday, June 29, 2019

Serviam Concludes for Now

Yesterday was our last day of “work” with the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.  For me this has been an incredible week of meeting those who have suffered so much to come to the United States for a better life.  Being at the CCHRC gave us the opportunity to meet many travelers, some of whom were there most of the week and some who were leaving that day.  These are the lucky ones who have been cleared from the detention centers and are going to family members who will welcome them for the next phase of their journey. 

Seeing the faces of so many infants, toddlers and young children will forever be engraved in my heart.  St. Angela said, “Have each one engraven in your heart, for this is how true love acts.”  This simple phrase came to me many times during this week as I gave our clothes for those in need.  Simple things such as shoelaces and belts were a precious commodity as they were taken by ICE at the detention centers.  It was so hard to tell the men we had no more.  Yesterday another young child had to be taken to the hospital for dehydration as he had to be ready to travel later in the day.  After a four-hour emergency room visit the child was cleared for travel and returned to the Center to be with his family.

A highlight of this time was having the opportunity to meet Sr. Norma Pimentel, MJ. the Executive Director of CCRGV (Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.)  She is an incredible model of welcoming God’s people and lives the social mission of the Church. I had the opportunity to thank her for all she has done and for the example she is for all of us.

While our Serviam time has come to completion I know that this experience has taught me so much and will forever be in my heart.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Serviam Experience Day Three

Today we set out to our service site and were surprised when we did not see too many people in the reception area. When we entered the clothing area, we realized that everyone was just in the inner area.  We immediately got to work, preparing breakfast, distributing clothing and whatever else needed to be done.  Upon entering the clothing area, we realized that everything was totally mixed up and we needed to shut the station down for a few minutes to reorganize the clothing which was everywhere.  In less than 15 minutes we were all set to begin the work of welcoming our guest with a change of clothes and shoes if needed.  The kitchen crew did an amazing job feeding the many hungry guest and had the experience of not being sure if the promised lunch donation was really going to arrive.

What is amazing to see is the number of guests who volunteer their services to help cook, clean and distribute clothing.  One of our guests today was cleaning and tidying and when asked where her shoes were, she humbly responded, “No tengo zapatos.”   In a manner of minutes, she had shoes as one of our volunteers made sure that she had what she needed especially after she had been so helpful during the day.  Such simple actions cause one to be humbled by all that is happening.

After our group left for the day, we returned to our Basilica Hotel for a quick shower and change of clothes and we went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.  It was a nice way to end the day.  After dinner we came back and had our reflection and sharing session.  During this time, we focused on where we saw/met Jesus today.  The responses were often in the faces of the men, women and children that we had encountered during our day.  Each one shared how they saw Jesus in the faces of those we served today and in the faces of many of the other volunteers.  Even though we are not able to take photos the faces I believe will forever be imprinted in our hearts and minds.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Friday, June 14, 2019

Flag Day 2019

Today we commemorate Flag Day.  On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress replaced the British symbols of the Grand Union flag with a new design featuring 13 white stars in a circle on a field of blue and 13 red and white stripes – one for each state.
In June 1886 Bernard Cigrand made his first public proposal for the annual observance of the birth of the flag when he wrote an article titled “The Fourteenth of June” in the old Chicago Argus newspaper. Cigrand’s effort to ensure national observance of Flag Day finally came when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for a nationwide observance of the event on June 14, 1916. However, Flag Day did not become official until August 1949, when President Harry Truman signed the legislation and proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day. In 1966, Congress also requested that the President issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week.

The American flag, also nicknamed as “Old Glory” or “star-spangled banner”, has changed designs over the centuries. It consists of 13 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars. Each of the 50 stars represents one of the 50 states in the United States and the 13 stripes represent the original 13 colonies that became the first states in the Union.

As we honor Flag Day today let us pray for all those who have paid the ultimate price defending our flag and our nation.  May we always pause to reflect and celebrate our nation and the symbols that has represented it for the last 242 years!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Pentecost Sunday

Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday! Since Pentecost is the Birthday of the Church, it is one of the most exciting days in our Christian Year. It is the time when the disciples no longer feared but were energized to proclaim the good news of God’s love through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.   The universal Church celebrates Pentecost, the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, 50 days after Easter.  Jesus promised His apostles that He would send them the Holy Spirit to empower them to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Pat Schifini, OSU

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:  "Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.  Father, they are your gift to me.  I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me.  I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."  John 17: 20 – 26

Today’s gospel truly portrays Jesus abundant love for us.  As He was preparing for His death he recognized each one of us as a gift given by God and He prayed that we would always be united with Him.  In revealing God’s abundant love for us Jesus invites us into a deep relationship with God.  This relationship comes with responsibility too.  We are called to mirror that love for one another.  In accepting this responsibility we also accept the call to be people who “act with justice, love tenderly and walk humbly with our God.”  (Micah 6:9)  By living this way we respond to Jesus’ call to love and be people of love.  Jesus has always promised to always be with us until the end of time. May we always commit ourselves to live each day the way that Jesus has called us to.

Pat Schifini, OSU