By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF
Over the last week, our Sisters gathered for community meetings. We set goals for the next four years and elected leaders to guide us through them. While our focus was strategic planning, we also spent much time sharing our stories and catching up on each other’s lives.
One of our major ideas for discussion had to do with the current refugee crisis: could we sponsor or, in some way, work with a refugee family? Pope Francis has expressly asked European Catholics, parishes and religious communities, to consider taking in a refugee family. Could we do the same?
Our research led to a surprising discovery. We are – albeit a bit remotely – already involved! We discovered that one of our former ministries, St. Leonard’s, a senior living community in Centerville, Ohio, has been employing refugees from Africa for years. They’ve had great success initiating refugees into the workforce in dietary and housekeeping jobs that don’t require great language proficiency and providing more specialized training to those who were interested. It’s been a win-win situation for everyone.
Sister Mary Jo, principal of Nativity BVM Elementary School in Biloxi, Mississippi, had the sweetest story, though. A local woman, a midwife, is trying to raise funds to travel to Greece so she can help pregnant refugees. Sister Mary Jo is working on fund-raising projects with the school children to aid the woman.
It’s too early to know how our efforts will shape up in Northwest Ohio. And who knows how stretching ourselves and opening our hearts will change our lives. I’ll keep you posted. But I know it’ll be good for us and for those we help. I’m sure we’ll do Pope Francis proud! And St. Francis, too!