In May 2012 IVC volunteers from NY, NJ, Syracuse, and Boston, came together for our final retreat in Long Branch New Jersey on the Jersey Shore. The weather cooperated, and we were able to enjoy inside and out. The author of this year’s book, Tomorrow’s Catholic, Michael Morwood was our presenter. Liz McMahon, our regional service coordinator, discovered that he lives near the retreat house, and both he and his wife came.
While it is one thing to read the words on paper, it is another to hear it live.
I learned a lot from the book, but from him I got a little different view. Morwood’s perspective is that God has truly visited within each of us, that we are indeed God’s presence on earth as well as in our service sites. He said that we are made of stardust transformed millions of time. I am so glad that my ladies and I are in the same moment of stardust transformation. How beautifully God has orchestrated the entire transformation.
Michael said that at some point Jesus had to stand up and be counted, to decide to let God’s spirit take him wherever it will. We are challenged to do the same, as individuals and as our group.
I have that feeling at my IVC service sites. The women I serve truly see God in me, And I see God in them.
There was a problem with electricity at one of our sites, so we found another site for our women’s support group. It is conducted in English and Spanish. I studied Spanish in High school, and the women teach me every week, so we speak our own version of Spanglish.
The women share their problems and get to know one another and become family for each other. There was a social worker and a social work student at the new site, and the women loved it. We had a picnic and everyone brought food and took turns cooking. We also had donations of clothes, toys, and knick knacks for the ladies, including a little piece of storage furniture. It was a lot of fun. The joy of serving God and God’s people was very clearly present.
The social worker asked the women if they wanted lunches for their children. 10 kids would be coming for lunches for the summer.
Imagine our surprise when the next week, not only were there no lunches, but the social worker said good bye and the place closed because of lack of funding!!
The women wanted to meet and continued to call to ask where and when and how we could continue to meet. The woman most eager to meet contacted a friend who agreed to have the meeting at her house. It was crowded, but the women were very happy to see one another and to have our group continue. Another woman offered to host the next group, and so we continue.
The women are mostly from Mexico, and are very excited that their children who have mostly lived in the US are now able to apply for permanent residency and citizenship. They have watched each other’s children grow up, and have been living the presence of God in the group. We know that whatever happens in our week, we can share our feelings, our problems, and pray with and for one another. No one is alone with her fears, problems and joys. And God is in our midst.
We are gathering school supplies and the women are so grateful. They need support to make ends meet, and God provides through generous donors, yet another rearrangement of stardust.
Louise M. Sandberg is a IVC Spiritual Reflector and Volunteer, as Director of the Mary & Elizabeth Center which reaches out to women in need on Long Island, NY. She is a pediatric home care nurse, and facilitates Wildflower groups for women healing from childhood abuse, praying for healing of feelings and memories.