A lmost every morning around 6 a.m. I walk my dog through our neighborhood in the coastal Brazilian city of João Pessoa at the easternmost part of the Americas. I am often joined by street collectors who rustle through garbage for recyclables and other items to be reused. Last All Souls’ Day, as I was returning home, I passed an elderly woman pulling her cart.
Suddenly a gentle rain started to fall. I commented to her that it always rains on the Day of the Dead (Dia dos Finados, as it is called in Portuguese). She replied that our ancestors are crying on this day. I said that our Maryknoll Brazil Mission Community was crying too because during the year we had lost three of our beloved Maryknoll elders: Sister Connie Pospisil and Fathers Frank Higdon and Daniel McLaughlin. May they rest in peace.
Kathleen Bond, MKLM
F our sisters entered a small elevator on the third floor of the Maryknoll Sisters Center, heading down to lunch. One of the sisters was from Hawaii and had worked in Japan; another was from Japan and had been missioned to Guatemala; the third, from Missouri, had served in Japan; and the fourth, from Pennsylvania, had recently returned from Guatemala. By the time the door opened on the ground floor, the four (Rita Burdzy, Bernice Kita, Teruko Ito and Elizabeth Kato) were laughing heartily. Why? Rita, Kita, Ito, Kato—or any other arrangement of the names—could only happen, happily, at Maryknoll.
Bernice Kita, M.M.
H ere in Bangladesh, skinny, awkward, 6-year-old Bareek was brought to see me by his equally thin, worried mother. A doctor had diagnosed the boy with cerebral palsy. I pledged to arrange a two-week course of physiotherapy so that the mother could help her son.
On that very day, my neighbor Haroon and I were hauling earth in baskets to lay as a foundation for my new house. Bareek decided to help us. In his family’s cooking shed he found a high-sided rice plate.
Working alongside us men, Bareek filled his plate repeatedly with soil, carried it 15 meters despite his unsteady gait, and emptied the contents of his plate wherever Haroon and I emptied our basketsful. Bareek labored non-stop as long as we did. Neighbors who observed his voluntary efforts thought, pound for pound, Bareek was the most admirable earth hauler of all.
Robert McCahill, M.M.
O ne of the sisters who works with Solidary with South Sudan, a Catholic initiative that trains leaders for this new country, was at the airport processing through the chaotic check-in area. Here, one is pushed every which way because there are no lines and the system changes daily as to what you need to show for identification.
In all the hustle and bustle, the sister dropped a white envelope that was clearly marked: $100. She never missed it, but an official saw the envelope drop. He could easily have picked it up and put it in his pocket, and no one would have been the wiser. This would have been the equivalent of about three-months’ salary for him! But the official called the sister over, told her she had dropped the envelope and handed it to her. Thank God for honest people in this world.
Gabe Hurrish, MKLM
C asa Materna in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, where I have served since 1986, provides food, shelter, medical care, education and transportation to and from the hospital for high-risk pregnant women.
Part of my ministry here is fund-raising. That means my life is lived in a spirit of “thanksgiving.” Most often my gratitude takes the form of letter writing.
My yearly visits to the States also allow me special times to give thanks as I walk with friends and family who are so supportive of me and my ministry. At times I feel that our sharing reaches a greater depth and sense of intimacy because of the limited time we have together.
Catherine Madden, Maryknoll affiliate