Archives for posts with tag: Novitiate

65b5e049e3dec536c3f8c18434e9adea--beach-wallpaper-landscape-wallpaperInterns at work

September 24, 2002

“From the Indiana Dunes on the southern shore of Lake Michigan last week, to this side of Lake Michigan today, we interns meet again in Hyde Park. It is fitting to reunite so soon after sharing our life stories at an intense opening retreat. The calmness of the Lake and beauty of the Dunes in Michigan City, IN, helped the in-depth process move smoothly. We are learning by doing spiritual direction with one another, and we will do so each Tuesday.  Lunch time finds some of us meditating by the lake or soaking up the shimmering sun glistening on the water …

“I spend my first evening with the women tenants at Brand New Beginnings (BNB) in a support-group setting. I tune in to their past struggles (most revolving around drugs) and take notice as they share their positive energy in turning their lives around, not only for themselves but for their children as well. Their faith in God is their salvation and deliverance, and they want to give their children the love and attention that they themselves lacked.  I offer my service of one-on-one spiritual companionship with the intent of getting to know them better.  They accept me  as they do Della (the director) and Sally (the social worker) without hesitation … “

Prayer Walk for Change

The tenants of BNB help organize a phenomenal walk around their neighborhood. We invite surrounding churches to join us, and we hand out the following invitation.

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Prayer Walk for Change   

Washington Park Neighborhood, 45th  to 60th Street

Join us on April 18, 2003, Good Friday, Noon until 3 p.m.

WALK IN SILENT PRAYER BETWEEN PRAYER STATIONS

We walk around our neighborhood in faith and silent prayer for…

  • our children, threatened by gangs or are members of gangs…
  • our brothers and sisters who are bound by drugs, dealings, addictions, and violence…
  • our family members who are victims and  perpetrators of domestic violence…
  • our children who are subject to abuse…
  • the lack of affordable housing.

We pray for elimination of these problems and for a safe and peaceful environment in which to live.

We are the Tenant Council at Brand New Beginnings who built a solid foundation for a positive future and are taking necessary steps to achieve our goals.

We are willing to redirect our energy and intellect to create safe and positive homes for our children, and to be good neighbors in the restoration of peace and harmony in our neighborhood.

Our vision and our true foundation is God.

We invite you to join us in our first of seven prayer-vigil-walks around the neighborhood, patterned after the fall of the walls of Jericho as God so instructed Joshua (Joshua 6:1-5).

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Each walk is unique in that different people show up. The neighborhood has over fifty churches. Some ministers choose to follow while others choose to lead, until Della makes it clear that BNB is in charge. Children like to walk the walk; the Franciscan Sisters with whom I live join us, plus a van full of Clinton, Iowa Franciscans show up. The oldest Sister insists on walking the walk and refuses the police officer’s offer to ride in her cruiser. However, near the end of the walk, we hear a siren and see lights flashing as the officer pulls up with the Sister waiving out the front window!

Social Analysis

At the end of my first year pre-novitiate educational goals, I am asked to put together a social analysis of Brand New Beginnings. It allows me the opportunity to take a step back and look at the overall picture in order to receive the insights of the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) group. I admit that the surrounding neighborhood, as it is, makes me realize the need for a Prayer Walk for Change that was born out of both my social analysis project and Della’s vision for BNB. Such a cooperative venture offers BNB tenants, the neighborhood families, and the surrounding churches support one another and work together.

Key Growth Areas

A primary key growth area for me throughout my ministry site experience is recognizing when and how to be flexible.  I learn repeatedly that relaxing into the flow of what is happening lends to greater awareness of the situation than trying to “figure out” what is going on and trying to “fix” things according to my norms. It is yet another image, that of giving birth:  in knowing when to push and when to breathe during the birthing process; in allowing the body to adapt to the baby’s movements; to be “out of control” and into the rhythm of nature.

Great Lakes and Internships

chicago_skyline_and_lake_michigan-640x357September 3, 2002

“Ahhhh … finally I lay eyes on beautiful Lake Michigan. Its average depth of 279 feet determines it the second deepest of the five Great Lakes. On the other hand, Lake Erie’s average depth of 62 feet predisposes it to be the shallowest. Lake Michigan’s water varies day by day from light blue to dark blue to bluish green, while Lake Erie’s limited depth remains a steady gray.

“Once again Hyde Park is my destination for another interview, and it just so happens to be within walking distance of the Lake. The walkway in front of the circa 1933 Science and Industry Museum beckons me to come over. My eyes are instantly fixed on a sandy beach and a park with many pathways; I feel like Alice in Wonderland sliding down a tunnel into a magical place. Huge concrete blocks surround the shoreline and are identical to those at Cleveland’s Wildwood Beach on Lake Erie.

“Memories of my teenage summers in Cleveland promptly pop up. We teens in the East 185th Street neighborhood traversed these monster blocks on a dare. They were irregular, uneven masses of material that formed the fishing pier. We dare devils needed balance not only for the massive rocks, but most of all for the steel ‘one-foot-at-a-time’ beam that led to the end of the pier. Believe it or not, the return trip was the hardest trek!”

Internships

As a Novice living in Chicago and in formation for vowed membership with the Franciscan Sisters, I am expected to either work or to study in an outreach ministry program. My interests and experiences are spiritual direction and Hospice care. Lucky me finds one of each and signs up for both!

My Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program does not work with Hospice. Although I am disappointed not working with those who are terminally ill, I am enthused to work with formerly homeless women with children. Therefore, my Spiritual Direction Internship helps me learn how to help others as well as myself. Both internships require regular meetings that include soul searching, letter writing, and self evaluations.

The women’s group consists of several women with children who are living in a supportive low-income apartment complex.  Some of these mothers lost custody of their children; some regained custody; others had relatives who helped with the children; others had no help.  There are two fathers living with their families. Most of the women work outside the home and/or attend school; some are drawing disability insurance due to physical disabilities or injuries received from accidents.

The majority of the women are recovering from addictions and some are mandated by law to undergo recovery treatment.  Therefore, the focus of the semimonthly support group meeting I lead is the workbook entitled The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey to Healing Damaged Emotions.  The common belief of the group is that through God, and especially God as revealed in Scripture, all things are possible, and it is through prayer that addictions can be overcome and conquered.

My ministry of presence with the women moves in various directions throughout the year. At one point I consider my role to be that of midwife, the one who helps new life into being and protects it, who does things “with,” not “to” the person giving birth, who helps the birth giver toward ever greater self knowledge. It is helpful to have a midwife to accompany us in any birthing process.

A primary key growth area for me throughout my ministry site experience is recognizing when to be flexible.  I learn repeatedly that relaxing into the flow of what is happening lends to greater awareness of the situation

Discernment is a way of life.  I attempt to actively listen to people as well as to my inner being as I travel on the road to vowed life.

By the way, Hyde Park is the center of my education; Lake Michigan, my haven.