“That peace which is
the portion of the chosen
servants of God is seldom
unmixed with interior
struggles.”

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

 

 

“You must be in
right earnest or
you will do little or
nothing for God.”

St. Elizabeth Seton

Finding the Good in Difficult Days: Sisters and Associates Reflect on a Pandemic

Sisters Andrea Koverman, Romina Sapinoso, Carol Wirtz and Peggy Deneweth look to the future at Proyecto Santo Niño in Anapra, Mexico.

Many of us try to adhere to the advice given in the quote often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The world is indeed changing drastically in these days of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Though causing immeasurable suffering and unprecedented loss of life, this crisis is a potential catalyst for redemptive transformation. We can already see this at work as we begin to act on the realization that we had become far too individualistic and self-serving. People are looking out for each other, wearing masks to protect one another and checking in on their neighbors. Food banks manned by countless volunteers pass out staples to families rather than see them go hungry. And we are looking at our health care system, national and local policies through a very different lens than just a few months ago. Please God, may we come out of this being more compassionate, just and loving towards each other.

Meanwhile, the Santo Niño community in Anapra, Mexico, is undergoing its own process of transformation. While we carefully monitor the situation on both sides of the border and try to develop a safe re-open plan (we want to be ready when that blessed day finally comes), there have been significant transformations taking place. Most deeply felt and born of necessity is the transformation from an in-person to a virtual community. Thank goodness for the technology that allows us to see the beautiful faces of our mothers and children and to make sure everyone is doing alright. We thank God also for our generous sponsors that allow us to continue to provide the small stipends and emergency assistance that are becoming increasingly more needed as the pandemic continues.

Therapy room

Kitchen/community room

The other transformation is of a much more tangible sort. We are getting closer and closer to finishing the renovations at the center, and everything is looking just beautiful! It makes us even more anxious to have our families back in person! But transformation is nothing new to Proyecto Santo Niño. Through the years it has morphed from the modest home of our friend, Fr. Bill Morton, to a medical and therapeutic clinic staffed by the late Dr. S. Janet Gildea and S. Peggy Deneweth and S. Carol Wirtz. In response to the needs we find presenting themselves to us now, we are adding a strengthened focus on the educational needs of our community. And so, classrooms were in order!

Early childhood classroom

Classroom for older students

With the help of a very generous donation made in memory of S. Janet Gildea, two designated classrooms will allow the children to focus on their lessons without the usual distractions of sharing a large open space with lots of other folks doing a lot of other things. This will also create a calm, quiet space for giving and receiving the various types of therapy offered. The old kitchen is being reconfigured so that we can use it for sharing meals, conducting workshops and providing a comfortable place to practice the art of being community to one another – sharing a cup of coffee, a sympathetic ear, a word of support, a prayer.

These designated spaces will tend to the multitude of educational needs we want to address. Now we can ensure that the younger siblings of our children with special needs get off to a good start and will be successful in the public school system, help the special needs students maximize their potential, tutor the older siblings, assist the adults in getting the educational certification, and continue to provide English classes to all who want them. Imagine the possibilities that will lead to!

To learn more about Proyecto Santo Niño, please visit www.proyectosantonino.org.

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