“We’re Here for You. You’re Not Alone"
Casserly House, a congregation ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, was alive with enthusiasm as neighbors came together to welcome Mayor Marty Walsh on his first visit since becoming Mayor of Boston. When all were gathered, Nancy Braceland, CSJ, shared a little about the history of Casserly House and the positive changes in the local area since 2000 when Casserly House opened as a presence in this neighborhood. Jim McCarthy, an Ignatian Volunteer, spoke about the commitment of tutors, volunteers, advisory board, and those who provide grants to make the ministry of Casserly House possible.
Mayor Walsh then spoke of his commitment to supporting immigrants’ rights. “We are not a reporting city – a city that reports any undocumented person,” he said. The mayor spoke of his own roots as a child of immigrant parents who grew up in a three-family house much like the houses on Stellman Road, and attended college later in life. He also introduced Tim McCarthy, the city councilor for the Roslindale area.
Next the mayor listened as neighborhood residents spoke of their own situations. One man described how he had to resign from a stable job because his paycheck didn’t qualify him for the assistance needed for two of his young children to attend pre-kindergarten. He did not earn enough to afford day-care and is now unemployed while he tries to homeschool his children.
A mother of ten children told the mayor, “Casserly House will put you through. Now I’m a U.S. citizen and my kids will come here and become citizens.” Another woman explained, “When I came, I had to learn to hold a pen. I couldn’t sign my name. Casserly House is the best. We’re all happy when we come here. I now have a green card and work as a cashier. Sister Nancy helped me with that.”
Toward the end of the visit, Mayor Walsh said, “Congratulations on what you’re doing with your life. It’s important for the city to support programs like those being done by Sister Nancy and the sisters.” City Councilor, Tim McCarthy, remarked, “We’re here for you. You’re not alone. That’s what’s special about a place like this.” In turn, the people at Casserly House thanked the mayor and city councilor for visiting and for all the good they are doing.
Deepening Conversations with God
by Joanne Fantini, CSJA
In speaking at our Associate Retreat on April 9, 2016, Carol Fitzsimmons, CSJ, offered that the title Deepening Conversations with God “expresses a desire for something ‘more.’ The ‘more’ begins in the now. God’s now – God who listens to us, dwells amongst us and loves hearing the daily grist of our lives.”
During the morning session, we journeyed with Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas on the way to Emmaus keeping our focus on Jesus. Carol reminded us that we have no destination, only this day to bless us. We are simply invited to take a long walk with Jesus, the Risen One and notice what happens within us. Jesus, the spiritual director par excellence, enters into the deep waters of each day’s living and invites us to see more deeply that we have all we need in our hearts – that all is a gift given in love and to respond to the gift with our free, “Yes,” to yield to the work that God wants to do within us.
In the afternoon session, Carol took us deeper into the Easter story by introducing all to a contemporary Jewish woman, Etty Hillesum, through her diaries written in 1941-43 amidst the darkening cloud of the Holocaust. Hers is the story of a young woman who unexpectedly journeys into God by listening deeply to her life and writing about what she was thinking and feeling. Carol invited us to ponder the ways God might be providing for us, right now, to learn something from this young woman through her own stunning transformation which ultimately brings her to be at home with an indwelling God. In this sense, Etty’s story is a true Easter story which inspires all of us to reflect on the truth that resonates with our own prayer.