On the Move in “Chicagoland” . . .
Once Mary Ward discerned what she felt was God’s will, her footsteps made their way all over Europe. From London to Calais, to Liege, to Perugia, to Naples and Rome, Mary Ward walked to proclaim God’s glory. Following Mary Ward’s example of walking to express her passion about God’s will for her, Illinois Associates are on the move in both the literal and figurative senses.
Every fall, supporters of Mary Ward Center on Chicago’s south side participate in a walkathon to raise funds so that the ministry of providing educational opportunities to the people of the area can continue. Those supporters include students, Sisters and Associates, clergy, volunteer teachers, families and friends (even a few furry ones!). The ministries they support include G.E.D., citizenship preparation, teaching English as a second language and computer skills. As Mary Ward responded to God’s “deep dream” for her, so, too, the supporters of Mary Ward Center make possible the deep dreams of those who pass through the Center’s door. Mary Ward Center is staffed by Sisters Lorraine Crawford, Mary Howard Moriarity, Christa Parra, and Pat Pendleton. They are assisted by Sisters Rosemary Lynch IBVM and Donna Kustusch OP and several volunteers.
The passion of Sister Josephine O’Brien for “walking” through the Nineteenth Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is evident by the smile in her eyes and the gentle tone of her lovely Irish accented voice. “Sister Jo” imparts not only information, but the living spirit of the Exercises and their application in today’s world. Her flagship group of Associates continues their spiritual practice in twice monthly sessions. Other groups meet for less regular, but still deeply meaningful reunions.
Associate Patty Dorney reflects on her participation in what she calls her Spirit Group: “We are friends, confidantes, co-conspirators (in surprises for Sister Josephine) and followers of Jesus. Sr. Josephine, who leads our group, is a gift from God. She explains things so that all of a sudden you can see something in a way that it seems like a revelation. You are amazed that it was there all the time and you couldn’t see it….We leave her sessions a lot happier than when we arrived and a lot closer to God than before. She also has a way of making us feel loved, and we are convinced that God loves us, no matter what.” Associates who walk this walk are grateful for their ongoing spiritual development, their bond with each other, and the loving presence of Sister Josephine as their guide.
Keeping Mary Ward’s Charism Alive in Menominee
Ellen Enright, IBVM
The experience of the Associates in Menominee, Michigan, is a bit different from Associates in other parts of the United States. When I was in Holy Spirit Parish with no other IBVM sisters in the area, the question of how to be supportive of me and my ministry at Holy Spirit arose. Many parishioners had already formed a close-knit group active in parish ministry, and they wanted to know more about this Mary Ward of whom I spoke so often. We solved this by looking at “the Painted Life of Mary Ward” and the commentary that came with it. It was then that they truly embraced her and became men and women following the spirit of Mary Ward, each using his or her own gifts and talents. Thus the Associate Relationship was born at Holy Spirit Parish in Menominee.
Eleven years later I left Menominee and new questions arose: would the Associate Group continue and how? Without any turmoil, the Associates decided that they had a charism that was valuable to them. Life lived in the spirit of Mary Ward would go on . . . and so it does as each Associate strives to live with “an attitude of openness to all good works . . .” (IBVM Constitutions, 1.11).
Living the vision of integrity, justice and freedom, Anne Gardiner and her husband Tim decided that, since their three children were fairly well grown, they would adopt two little girls, Maria and Wendy, from Central America. The girls have added lots of fun to Associate gatherings as everyone watches Maria and Wendy become acclimated to the northern climate. Anne is back at volunteering in the school for kindergarten and first grade.
We have had concerns with the health of Carol and Bob Rickaby and have supported Chum Beaudo in the death of his dear mother recently. There are also prayers and concern for Val LeBoeuf as she cares for her husband, Jack, who had recent heart surgery. Val also keeps an eye on her Jesuit son, Karl, who is president of the University of Detroit High School.
We enjoy our gatherings, the last being for our youngest Associate, Colleen Best, who celebrated her 22nd birthday at our gathering in her family home. It was at that time that we pledged our prayer for Dan Bancroft whose leukemia had returned and as he faced surgery.
Still, with faith, we are conscious of the charism we share in the world-wide family of Mary Ward.
From Ann Gamboa, Associate in Sacramento, California
Hello. My name is Ann Gamboa and I have been an IBVM Associate for about five years. I love walking with Mary Ward and the IBVM Sisters! I love the fellowship, the love and kindness shared within our group and extended to others through our many ministries. I love being inspired and challenged by Mary Ward and by those in our group. I love feeling the presence of our Lord when we pray as a group. I love being exposed to others in the intimacy of their personal prayers. I remember Sister Jane McKirchey said at one of our meetings that she wanted us to pray for those who had no one to pray for them. This has really touched me to think and pray differently; to be more inclusive and to think about people, their needs and their situations more closely and in different ways. I am blessed by my association with these women of God. Sometimes it is more important to simply be present than perhaps anything we can say.
From the Associates in Arizona . . . “To love the poor . . .”
Lisa Grant, Mary Novotny
Engraved on Mary Ward’s tombstone in a small village church in England is this beautiful inscription: To love the poor, persevere in the same, live, die and rise with them was all the aim of Mary Ward . . . Four centuries later the Arizona Associates are carrying on Mary Ward’s lifework of loving the poor by their work in the Kino Border Initiative. Named for the Jesuit missionary Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711), the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) is a humanitarian organization that provides direct assistance to men, women and children who have been deported from the United States to Mexico. Usually these people have little or no money and only the clothes on their back. Most of them do not know anyone in Nogales and find themselves completely alone
The KBI came to fruition in January of 2009 as a bi-national collaboration of six different Catholic organizations. Located in Nogales, Mexico, just blocks from the Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, the major deportation port for migrants in the Southwest, the program responds to the escalating crisis that surrounds the continuing deportation of undocumented migrants back to Mexico.
The KBI ministry offers immediate humanitarian and pastoral assistance to migrants who have been recently deported from the United States by offering meals and clothing, giving basic medical care, and providing shelter to unaccompanied women and children.
Holding the La Posada Banner in Nogales
are (from left to right) Sister Anne and
Associates Lisa Grant, Wilma Martin and Mary Novotny.
For over two years, the Mary Ward Associates have been making monthly trips to the border to bring food, clothing and medical supplies. For Associate Janice Flood, “It is an opportunity to show solidarity with our undocumented brothers and sisters in in the Body of Christ. Their needs are beyond anything we will ever experience. One can never forget their faces or needs.” “During the meal Father McIntosh and the Sisters provide a message of respect and love,” observes Associate Beanie Bonnano.
For Anne Fitzimons, IBVM, her trip to the KBI Las Posadas was truly a Gospel event. “God was present in a palpable way. The stories we heard from those who have been deported and separated from their children were heartbreaking. How many people in our world are facing that prospect of "no room" either from losing their homes or being deported with nothing? That reality came home to me in a whole new way as I met the people who were deported, as I saw the little lean-to where they came for some food and clothing, as I heard the heartbreak of a mother who had to leave her three children in the USA with a cousin, and with no guarantee as to when she might see them again. What can I do? I can pray more fervently for all who live in poverty and oppression that they can have the peace and freedom to be who God is calling them to be.” Certainly Mary Ward’s love for the poor continues in Nogales...