On March 23, 2017, I set out on a 12-day trip to Texas and Mexico, with dreams and hopes. My trip was initially intended to visit with our sisters, friends and supporters, experience the FSLF ministries and meet with donor groups. I was unsure how it would all unfold. It was a time to experience faith, be open to surprises and meaningful encounters along the way.
In McAllen, Sisters Anita Jennissen, Mary Hroscikoski and Shirley Mueller provided warm hospitality to several gatherings of pre-invited friends and donors to our community. These relaxed and meaningful groups enjoyed wonderful meals prepared with Franciscan love and plenty of conversation, ministry stories and sharing of Franciscan values. During the days that were spent in McAllen, there was opportunity to meet for the first time with some of the donors who sponsor our ministries. It provided a time to say thank you and also for the sisters to share how they are ministering in the area–in the neighborhood, parishes, with refugees and the homeless. The discussions around the table highlighted the active role of the faith filled laity of the area. Included with our guests were Sister Mary Lou Eltgroth’s brothers and wives who are “snowbirds” in McAllen. On Saturday, March 25, we took the bus to Brownsville to visit Jean, Joe and Rachel Krause and ended the day with a visit with Sister Pat Forster. Other donors and friends were visited around a meal or special arrangements.
Saltillo was also on the schedule. What a relief to meet Sisters Carol Schmit and Isa Berrones at the bus depot on March 26. They provided warm hospitality at their home and tours that included the major churches of Saltillo, the neighborhoods and market places. We also heard of the new initiative in Ocampo which would begin six days later. We met Sister Aurora the following day in San Rafael where she was ministering at the time.
As we travelled on March 27 to San Rafael, it was exciting to see this mission for the first time. We began our day with a Conversation Circle gathering with all our sisters. I was delighted to be a part of the group. It was very interesting to observe how our sisters live and minister with total dedication in the area and how these experiences impact the discussions. In San Rafael, I especially enjoyed the well planned rhythm of study, prayer, music and community that is shared between sisters, students and staff.
Our sisters in Mexico, Sisters Mary Dumonceaux, Janice Wiechman and Ange Mayers extended hospitality to Leona Wieland (my travelling companion and sister to Sister Ange Mayers) and me at every step. We toured the mountains and valleys, given experiences with families who live in poverty, attended home liturgies, enjoyed community time and more.
This article is a snapshot of my time in Texas and Mexico. I came home with many memories, gratitude for all that was experienced and a deep sense of solidarity with our sisters and those that surround them. Meeting our partners in ministry and friendship added a rich dimension. Thank you, each and every one for your kind hospitality along the way and to our sisters for your prayers for safety and well-being.