In our midst, right before our eyes and ears, blooming like fuchsia flowers on a Christmas cactus, appear unmistakable signs of Emmanuel, God-with-us, God in our flesh and blood.
Here are just a few of those signs, culled from our Sisters, Associates, colleagues, and sponsored ministries. Each one represents hundreds of untold stories. As we gather with family and friends, this Christmas season invites each one of us to spread the joy of Christ, alive in us, active through us, by sharing our own stories of goodness, kindness, courage, hope, and love. A blessed Christmas and a New Year of peace to all!
The Bronx: Over 450 NY Foundling staff, administrators & individuals with developmental disabilities ate, danced, and celebrated in elegant, festive and fun style at a Christmas party at Marina del Rey Caterers. (https://www.nyfoundling.org)
East Harlem: Life Experience & Faith Sharing Associates (LEFSA) held its annual Christmas party for persons and families who are homeless (https://scny-lefsa.org/). Among those serving a mouth-watering meal of shrimp and lobster, chicken, stuffing, yams, and cornbread, were the families of a staff member at the SC Center and a board member of the SC Ministry Network. Both of them wanted their families to share in the spirit of giving to other families in need.
Westchester County: Casa de Esperanza co-directors Sisters Jean Bocian and Terese McElroy are working to obtain passports for American-born children of immigrants (from six countries) whom Casa serves. An SCNY Associate volunteered her time to take passport pictures; numerous people have donated $100 to cover the cost per passport.
Mount St. Vincent Convent: A young SCNY Associate beamed with joy as she showed her newly-received engagement ring to admiring Sisters.
St. Elizabeth Seton School, Shrub Oak, NY: As she has for decades, Sr. Gabriel Miriam Obraz, principal & pianist, accompanied her students for the parish pageant, “The Journey to Christmas,” which she herself wrote. In other parishes, religious education programs and schools where Sisters & Associates serve, dedicated teachers and volunteers breathed sighs of relief as long months of practice for their annual Christmas pageants, concerts, and Lessons and Carols services concluded with near-flawless performances. The occasional Joseph who forgot his lines, angel who missed her cue, or sheep who wandered off-stage only added to the Christmas joy of the audience.
Nanuet: A dozen Sisters from St. Patrick Villa, Seton Village and other places in Rockland County volunteered their time to send personalized holiday greetings to the 625 residents at each of the 11 affordable, senior and specialized housing sites sponsored by the SC Housing Development Corporation.(https://sistersofcharityhousing.org/)
Mount Saint Vincent: Preparations continue for 2017, the year in which the Sisters of Charity will celebrate 200 years of presence in, and service to, the people of New York. (http://www.scny.org/)
Quiché, Guatemala: A Christmas letter from our Sisters quotes an Advent hymn often sung in Guatemala: A star will come to the city of Bethlehem, will come with all who desire to cross frontiers. The letter speaks of the gift of “darkness, where dreams begin, stars shine for seekers of light, and where new life emerges in unexpected places.”
On January 4, Elizabeth Seton’s feast, two young Mayan women, Maria Pablo and Manuela, will be received as novices in our congregation by Sr. Jane Iannucelli, President. Two more women, Juana Margarita and Sucena Rocxana, will be welcomed as postulants. We pray with and for them as “together we dream, we believe in the promises, we move through obscure paths and cross frontiers.”
–Good news stories compiled by Sr. Regina Bechtle, SC
Sr. Regina serves as Charism Resource Director for the Sisters of Charity of New York. A retreat leader and spiritual director, she gives presentations to lay and religious groups about St. Elizabeth Seton and our Vincentian-Charity heritage of spirituality.