December is filled with waiting, wonder and wondrous moments but, there are also haunting, nostalgic feelings that accompany it. For a brief time fighting seems to stop and the world seems to be one.
A few years ago, Johnny Mathias sang the song, When a Child is Born and its lyrics went like this: A ray of hope flickers in the sky
A tiny star lights up way up high
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born.
Every second Thursday of the month, a handful of cheerful church volunteers gathers at a local laundromat that doubles as the “Church of the Suds of Love.”
I’m part of a crew from St. Vincent de Paul parish in St. Louis that helps homeless and other poor people get their laundry done for free. It’s one of several ways our parish reaches out to people in need of basic services.
On one such evening, I leaned against the counter to chat with Roz, the wife of Jerry,
By Sister Anitawa (Ann) Fearday, ASC
Background: The Adorers of the Blood of Christ have had a mission in the Andean nation of Bolivia since 1973. Sister Anitawa (Ann) Fearday, from Teutopolis, Illinois, has served there since 1974. Her ministry includes coordinating a parish in formation, working at Salud Integral, a multipurpose center, and doing pastoral work in the rural area of Camata, eight hours outside of the capital. The Adorers have another deep connection to Bolivia. Seven Bolivian-born women have become Adorers. Those sisters, and one Bolivian novice, are part of our U.S.
Today is a holy day of remembrance. Many days we remember these women, but today we do it with the Church in a formal way.
We have all been affected in different ways by the martyrdom of these ASCs depending on how well we knew them. But the brutality of their deaths when we knew of their generous willingness to serve is hard, a kind of suffering and loss that we can’t really be prepared for.
It might be a good day to allow ourselves the time and energy to be “with” the millions of citizens of this world who continue to suffer in these kind of brutal wars where life is cheap and families are torn apart.
Since the end of June, on Wednesday evenings at 6, people have gathered on the church steps of St. Vincent de Paul’s parish in St. Louis to pray for the people at our border.
We begin with a short reflection offered by someone in the parish or the broader community and spend most of the time in silence and contemplation. It’s not really quiet because the traffic on busy Interstate 55 rumbles, roars, and speeds by a few short yards from our church, celebrating 175 years of prayer and service this year.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Adorers’ arrival in Tanzania in East Africa, which is now its own “region” or province of the Adorers worldwide. Four sisters from Italy established the first Adorers’ presence there in November 1969. The presence grew to a mission, later a foundation, then eventually a region. And along the way, some U.S. sisters joined the effort. U.S. Sisters JoAnn Mark and Rose Anthony Mathews recently recalled their time in ministry there.
When and where specifically did you serve in Tanzania?
Sister Mary Thomasine was the second of eight children and spent her childhood on the family farm. She was baptized Edna Mae at St. John the Baptist, a rural parish near Bazine, Kansas. One of her siblings also joined the ASC community as Sister Joyce Stoecklein.
Mary Thomasine entered the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in August 1939,
My parish, St. Vincent De Paul in St. Louis, began Wednesday evening vigils on our church steps to pray for the people and situation at the Border. The half-hour of a short reflection followed by prayer provides time and space to call the people at the border into our hearts.
Last week, as parishioners gathered, one of our street residents, with dirty clothes in shreds, shambled up the steps and went through the church doors, carrying a plastic food container.
One of the other parishioners and I followed him into the church to see if he needed anything.
I was in my late 30s when I began ministry in Bolivia. My hopes, joy and curiosity were as great as the majestic Andes Mountains surrounding the city of La Paz. Actually, it was more like an international novitiate as I plunged into a sea of new learnings amid very unchartered waters.
I was blessed to share my new missionary journey with an Adorer from the Ruma Province and two from Spain; a pastor from Malta who spoke five languages and neighbors from different Indigenous cultures and traditions.
I recently met my Iraqi student Dunya for the celebration of Eid that marks the end of the Ramadan month of fasting and prayers for Muslims worldwide.
The party in St. Louis featured free food and prizes, sno-cones, cotton candy, face painting, a fire truck and more. Volunteers from the host, Oasis International, and Canaan Baptist Church were on hand to help.
Refugees, immigrants, and U.S. citizens partied peacefully and enjoyed each other’s company. Dunya and her friend Azlar chatted together in animated Arabic while their daughters Shams and Zahraa played on the fire truck.
While her own spirituality was already well developed, Sister Barb discovered a rich culture that opened her to discover God in new ways.
“Their love and appreciation of the harmony of all life has found a home within me,” she writes. “It draws my attention to the profound beauty of creation, to the simple things that are so often missed or unappreciated. This sacred rhythm of life is like the heartbeat/drum beat that resonates in my prayer and gratitude for every gift and blessing of life.”
Read the full article here.
By Sister Vicki Bergkamp, ASC
Mysteries have a significant role in our lives. The Easter season calls us to consider one of our most profound mysteries, that death leads to new life.
Some mysteries are meant to be solved and usually we enjoy this challenge whether it is a puzzle, a novel, a movie, or a life event. We actually spend a lot of time solving mysteries.
Science is designed to solve the mysteries of our universe. Every time scientists solve a mystery,