By Sr. Ana Maria, O.S.F.,
Superior of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother
Living in Nebraska City provides a variety of ministries for me. I find that meeting Hispanic families in their own environment proves very beneficial in that I get to know their concerns and aspirations.
During summer, the good people of Nebraska City bring many vegetables and fruit to our door. This gives me much opportunity to share the food and to put my foot in the door of the unchurched. During the months of October and May, I invite myself to their home and to other practicing families to pray the Rosary with them. Afterward, we talk about Our Lord’s love, suffering and teachings, and of Our Lady’s loving obedience to God’s will and of her mediation.
During the season of Lent, the emphasis falls exclusively on praying the stations of the cross in their homes. While praying the stations, their eyes focus on a large crucifix or on the pictorials. Each person reads a station and all meditate. The stations of the cross booklet, being most personal, allows all participants to apply the meditation to their lives. When finished, each member of the family goes before the crucifix to thank the Lord for His love and mercy and to ask for forgiveness. Some family members pray aloud, which benefits the listeners.
When winter arrives, the problem of not working, especially in the area of construction, abounds. Others just simply lose their jobs; then, the ordeal of paying bills becomes unbearable. Just recently, a family needed money for their two college-bound girls to renew their work permit, which is quite expensive. Fortunately, we heard about their plight and the Church enabled them to meet the deadline.
Due to the pursuit of jobs, Hispanic families move often and cause some of their children to miss their Sacraments. Whenever possible, these “left out” children receive the Sacraments during their stay here. During summer, a week of Bible learning via the media delights the children in a home location, while prior to Christmas, they prepare themselves for this celebration by praying the Posada Novena in their homes.
The yearly arrival of the Apple Jack Festival means many people from other cities come to celebrate with us. I take the occasion to ask the women to make diverse Mexican dishes for the ‘South of the Border’ dinner held at St. Benedict’s church hall. Profit from this event goes for a Hispanic scholarship fund awarded to young adults pursuing higher education. To qualify, they must apply, attend Sunday Mass regularly and write an essay on what their Catholic faith means to them.
We applaud one young woman working her way to attain a music degree. It has taken her longer to graduate because she only takes classes she can afford to pay. For two years she was the recipient of the scholarship. We also congratulate a young man, persistent not only in study, but in employment, through which he paid all of last year’s college expenses. He received this year’s scholarship; his goal, the acquisition of a nursing degree. He has edified us tremendously in his daily recourse to Scripture, as well as for spiritual sustenance in determining God’s will for him, especially during times of trial. He prays before his travels as well as before retiring at night. This alone brings me much joy!
Other ministries involve providing music for the English and Hispanic liturgies. The English choir practices every week and provides beautiful harmonic singing. The choir participates in the annual ecumenical Advent concert, as well as a concert before the Christmas midnight Mass at St. Benedict.
This is the third year that prayers flow from parishioners of St. Mary, St. Benedict, and Church of the Holy Spirit (in Plattsmouth) to a particular Our Lady of Lourdes High School graduate. The graduate chooses someone who practices holiness of life. These prayers, provided by the convent, proceed via the Internet to the ‘Prayer Warrior’ who in turn sends them personally to the designated person. The prayers last for five of their college years. Excellent bonding has occurred between some students and the adult Prayer Warrior. Of course, the parents of the students delight in the knowledge that someone else prays for the spiritual welfare of their child.
As for now, I am experiencing a percolating heart, hopefully from the Holy Spirit, to engage in another service venture. I pray that all be done for His greater honor and glory.
During the Year for Consecrated Life, you can pray for the religious of the Lincoln Diocese by going to www.lincolndiocese.org/YCL-adopt - sign-up and adopt a Religious Community.