Spiritual bonds grow deeper undaunted by social distancing…
At the start of 2020, who could have imagined the crisis that would sweep the world — especially our beloved New York community? Whether affected by the virus itself or simply the anxiety and isolation it created, the pandemic has tested every one of us.
The Sisters of Charity of New York, like so many families, have been personally touched by COVID-19. I humbly ask you to pray for our Sisters who are suffering with illness or who have passed this year, as we also extend our heartfelt prayers for you and your family in this difficult time.
There is a sense that things may never be the same, but there is also hope. The Sisters are responding with determination and faith just like our founder, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who never gave up in the face of adversity. Through your support, our mission of Charity continues. I’d like to share with you some of the ways we’re reaching out to help those impacted by the pandemic today.
In addition to threatening lives, the pandemic crisis has also been an economic one, forcing tens of millions out of work — mostly low-wage earners — and creating unemployment levels not seen since the Great Depression. Cars are lining up for miles at food banks. Hunger and poverty are on the rise.
Thankfully, Sisters Hill Farm has been able to continue operations. This sponsored ministry is on track to produce thousands of pounds of healthful, organic vegetables for food pantries, soup kitchens, and individual families in need throughout the New York area. The Farm’s rich bounty will be more important than ever this year.
Prior to the pandemic, immigrant families served by the Sisters of Charity Multi-Service Center, Casa de Esperanza, were already struggling to make ends meet. And just when many families suddenly lost their income due to the crisis, the stay-at-home order came, making it impossible to seek help at the Center.
But the pandemic wasn’t enough to stop Casa de Esperanza co-directors Sr. Jean Bocian, SC, and Sr. Terese McElroy, SC! Though Casa’s doors were forced to close, they got in touch with families by phone to determine their needs. The Sisters then arranged individual appointment times for mothers to come directly to their apartment to pick up emergency funds for their families.
“The families were so grateful for the money they received and our concern for them,” wrote Sr. Jean and Sr. Terese. “We were blessed, thanked, hugged and kissed from afar, as well as gifted with offers to shop for us, a children’s beautiful handmade drawing of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and even tacos de papas y salsa for us to enjoy!”
Our Life Experience and Faith Sharing Associates (LEFSA) ministry remains a beacon of hope for those who are homeless. With help from Elizabeth Seton Women’s Center volunteers, LEFSA continued distributing sandwiches to people on the streets right up until the stay-at-home order went into effect. At that point, LEFSA team members began offering prayer and counseling services by phone to the formerly homeless and distributing prayer books to shelters.
The pandemic has changed the way we live — but it hasn’t changed our Sisters’ commitment to serve.
The prayer service by conference call every day at noon has been keeping spirits strong. “This has been extremely helpful for our LEFSA community who are still living on the streets, to stay connected with God and us,” explained James Addison, LEFSA’s Operations Manager. The LEFSA team is working on a new program to help rebuild the lives of those who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Elizabeth Seton Women’s Center continues its mission despite the challenges of social distancing by moving its programs online. “Virtual” meetings have allowed women and girls to share their experiences and emotions around the pandemic, discuss ways to put values into practice and teach young women about career options.
With schools closed since March, the Center’s mentoring program for high school girls in need has become especially important. The Center is focusing extra attention on students whose college plans are now in jeopardy because of the pandemic crisis. “This pandemic has only made the mission of the Elizabeth Seton Women’s Center more necessary, as those who have less or are marginalized will need more support than ever going forward,” explained Ellen Mihovics, director of the Center.
So many lives are hanging in the balance as a result of the pandemic, and your generosity will make a difference. Please help us relieve the suffering of those who are newly hungry, homeless, or otherwise in need of support. The Sisters will be appreciative of whatever gift you can afford to aid our ministries, whose work restores hope to so many in need.
In a year filled with hardship and uncertainty, I am genuinely grateful for your support. The Sisters are praying for you and your loved ones, that you may be strong in body, mind and spirit, as we also pray for an end to the pandemic. May God bless you.
Sr. Donna Dodge, SC