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New Life

 Sister Anitawa (Ann) Fearday, ASC

By Sr. Ann Fearday, ASC

Meet Mateo, born May 11 weighing in at seven pounds. I had been accompanying his Honduran mother, Maria, since January. It had been a high-risk pregnancy since she is diabetic, speaks no English, and lives in an isolated situation where she has no car and no access to public transportation. Even though Maria had a challenging pregnancy, she was able to have the baby naturally and with it came such rejoicing.

For me, too, this pregnancy was challenging. Accompanying Maria implied getting to know the resources she might need. It led me to thrift shops, food pantries, social services, faith sanctuaries, hospitals, and an asylum clinic. I participated in a five-day immigration immersion experience in St. Joseph, MO, met the supervisor of Puentes de Esperanza through which Maria was able to get Medicaid, and visited Chester and other towns with immigrants in southern Illinois.

There I saw firsthand how many migrants live, work, and relate to a society which for the most part, is often intimidating for them. I contacted Lucy Barragan of the Diocesan Hispanic Ministry office and with her, gave a presentation on immigration to the Diocesan Catholic Women in Marion, IL. I worship regularly on Sundays with the Hispanic community of the Shrine and have also worshiped with Latinos at Damiansville.

On May 5 the Bishop celebrated Confirmation at Damiansville with several Hispanic youth receiving the sacrament and I joined the community afterwards in the festivities of Cinco de Mayo. Through all of this, I learned to use an iPhone, navigate a vehicle with GPS, live in a new place, and hone multiple other skills. Being a relatively recent returnee to the U.S. after having been absent for 50 years, Mateo’s new life has given me new life. I am now no longer so daunted by the U.S. but reclaim it as my own country.

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