Charity Spirit Alive in Texas
by S. Mary Bodde
S. (From left) Associate Frances Arnold, Associate Barry Mersmann, Associate Mary Ann Perez, facilitator Marci Madary, Associate Karen Martin
Weslaco, Texas, the home of S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz and Associates Viola Elizondo and Mary Ann Perez, is one of the most distant residences of Associates who attended the Caritas Convocation at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse June 27 through July 1, 2012.
Not only lengthy travel time, but cost of travel has been a challenge for these Associates. Besides scholarship help from the Associate Assistance Fund, “We had garage sales to cover the cost of our air fare,” Mary Ann said.
“I’m retired from nursing,” S. Anne Darlene added, “but my retirement income doesn’t include travel funds. Somehow we find a way.”
All three are very involved with their St. Pius X parish and other ministries: S. Anne Darlene takes responsibility for the Gift Shop; Viola for the Mass ministries; and Mary Ann directs the Passion Play, a production with 60 people in two performances on Palm Sunday for 1,000 attendees. “But we all help each other,” S. Anne Darlene added.
S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz (right) visits with S. Mary Ann Humbert (left) and Associate Blasa Rivera during the June Caritas Convocation.
These Texan Associates are used to challenges. Mary Ann, a grandmother of three with two on the way, devotes time as a housewife and recently to home remodeling as she downsizes.
“I have never seen anyone give up so much, so well, to simplify her life,” Viola said.
“The Associate program helps,” Mary Ann added.
The three are “keeping their eyes out” to recruit more Associates. “We had nine at one time,” Viola said, “but lost some through lifestyle changes. We have two in training and offer retreats for the parish community in a four-day program. We emphasize Adoration, Community, Theology and Service – in English and Spanish. As a result we welcomed 47 new Catholics at Easter.
“Our retreats are a spinoff from the Cursillo Movement started in San Antonio, Texas, for both Catholics and non-Catholics, and to the evangelize members of the parish,” Viola explained. “Those who make the retreat could be invited to be part of the team for the next retreat. We also offer retreats for men, women and children.”
The Texans appreciated coming together with other Associates and Sisters, all around the same charism and lifestyles. They were thrilled to be in this beautiful place called Mount St. Joseph.
Texas Associate Viola Elizondo (left) enjoys a table discussion with S. Mary Bookser.