Saturday, August 12, 2023

The Manna from Heaven: Graces Enough for Everyone

I met Juan, sitting on the floor of the parish I usually go to. He was charging his phone.  I asked him if he has company, he said, he is alone.  He is from Venezuela.  Are you alright?  I asked him.  I just have the courage to ask him amidst my poor Spanish.  Besides the Gospel of that day was about feeding the multitude and the first reading talked about "manna from heaven".  God will not forsake His people but the people must seek and ask for God's blessings instead of complain. After calling several Spanish-speaking Sisters whom I know, they were able to talk to him so I can understand his situation, I finally got his story at least good enough for me to know what can help him other than leave him on the floor, looking helpless.  

He left the Catholic Charities for a job.  The painting job only lasted for two weeks.   He has a friend in Florida but could not help him to stay in his house because of his friend's family.  He missed his court date in Florida.  He is in San Antonio, but he has been in several places according to the church staff who was also trying to look for help for him.  He wants to be deported.  The church staff was also busy with the demands of the church obligations and the parishioners that they needed to look after.   The city of San Antonio has not called them yet regarding the situation of Juan.  He showed me $10 in his pocket.  I added what I barely have.  We have a gracious God, in Jesus Christ, who provided the multitude if I can give what I have.   Juan told me that the Catholic Charities Shelter cannot accept him anymore because he has left their custody.  I called Haven for Hope but unfortunately, they do not accept refugees there.   There is one hope that I can advise him. On very few occasions in the past, I volunteered in the Greyhound bus station where the Raices and Interfaith Coalition tirelessly welcome and give sandwiches, backpacks, and advise the migrants and refugees about the next bus to get into.  With the help of his cellphone, he can look up on how to go to Greyhound Bus Station.  There are volunteers there who can further assist him.  He agreed to go to the station I suggested.  

The system is overwhelmed by the refugees and immigrants who are coming to United States.  Especially in Texas borders where the refugees without families are left to the situation of taking chances of what the system can provide. Juan's friend is not able to help and still migrants like Juan took chances of travelling from one country to another to seek refuge.  Perhaps, they are hopeless and see United States as their only hope.  The refugees are coming here because they feel lost, climate change, dying in their countries without necessary assistance, civil unrest, government instability, war, drugs, and violence.  

I can see in the news that in European countries, families are taking in refugees and immigrants.  The system in United States is mostly working through non-profit organizations, government, and non-government organizations.  The refugees are given a court date that they must comply depending on what the refugees told the immigration officer, they will have to appear in a specific place where their case will be heard.  There might be cases when refugees do not have money to buy a ticket to go to the place of the court hearing.  I occasionally volunteer in Catholic Charities, where they cater 40, 50, 100, even more than 700 refugees, asylum seekers in a day.  Every day, the Catholic Charities shelters are flooded with people waiting for their next destination.  They cannot stay in temporary shelters and thus, the work of the staff is to get them to their families, friends, or temporary shelters.  There were occasions when there were no shelters to place the refugees.  

The long-term solution to the root causes of this migration crisis requires a foreign economic policy, political will, conversion of leaders to work for the common good, our continuous conversion to change our lifestyle to put an end to increasing risks brought by the climate crisis, and an open heart, mind, and hand to assist what we can with prudence about the human trafficking that could be at large and abusing the vulnerable people including the migrants.  In case of Human Trafficking, please report to National Hotline 1-888-373-7888.  It is a crime to enslaved people for work, sex, and money.  I would not let that young man to be trafficked.  I would rather give him the right resource.  This is the manna from God to have compassion.  Compassion is similar to fish and loaves.  

Mother Teresa said, "if you cannot feed a hundred, then feed just one."  Sometimes, we are burdened by a lot of issues and challenges that we face.  We can tackle them by attending to what we can do at a given moment.  God can give us one person in front of us.  In this case, I saw Juan.  I have the option of ignoring him, leaving him looking helpless.  However, I chose to direct him to the right resource.  There are resources available in places where we are.  We must be aware of where the resources are.  Give the people the options.  Jesus Christ worked with the resources that are available and offered it up to God.  It is human's work to cooperate with God's graces, to humble ourselves that we need help, to receive the graces, and to be transformed.  

 We could easily be trapped in the idea of complaining that there are a lot of responsibilities, a lot of pending work, and a pile of things to do.  God does not want us to make miracles out of nothing because it is God's work to multiply and to change hearts so others will give too.  Each of us has been given Juan in our lives. God is asking us what we have and offer it up.  We have the option to focus on the good things we can do and offer it up.  The harvest is plentiful, and the laborers are few.  We have the option to open our eyes, heart, and use our hands and feet to put our time and resources in the service of others.  United States is a country full of talents, resources, opportunities, and dreams.  Wherever you are, there are five loaves and two fish.  

What blessings do you have to offer today?

You could be that one person that Jesus has been waiting for to give the fish and loaves.

Monday, August 7, 2023

BrainPower Connection

Notes which accompanied the presentation given by Sr. Martha Ann Kirk for the BrainPower School educators, Aug. 8, 2023. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ suffering . . . seeks relief at your hands.”                                                 ~The founding call of the Incarnate Word Sisters, words written by Bishop Claude Dubuis, 1866.

"Santa Rosa will open Dec. 1, 1869. All persons regardless of nationality or creed are welcome."     The first public statement of the Incarnate Word Sisters at the time they were founded in1869 was one of inclusion.

“Incarnate Word Sisters and Social Justice,” an exhibit, a booklet  and a possible program of dramatic stories are available.  These are sponsored by “Humanities Research for the Public Good, a part of the Council of Independent Colleges” supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Children under 12 may enjoy this "Playbook" on the Incarnate Word Sisters  also available in Spanish

Let us learn from and be inspired by Sister Pauline Fierro, a compassionate and courageous educator featured on KSAT “History Untold”

 The Charter for Compassion developed in 2009 can help us treat others as we wish to be treated. This has inspired educational resources and movement around the world  See 2 minute film on YouTube.

San Antonio has a City Council resolutation to be a "City of Compassion." This is an invitation to each of us to live and grow in compassion for ourselves and others.

Join “CompassionateUSA: Growing, Healing, Leading” discussions, whether for Professional Development Hours or personal renewal.  Six Thursdays, 7 to 8 pm, on zoom, Sept. 14 – Oct. 19, free.   CompassionateUSA is a learning journey designed to teach self-compassion and community well-being that honors our common humanity and affirms the beauty of our differences. We seek to help people develop foundational  skill-sets, a shared vocabulary, and a common practice for all people to ultimately decrease violence and trauma and increase individual and collective healing.                                            Please register on GivePulse                                         or e-mail or call Sr. Martha Ann Kirk  210-883-5934 

Invite young women, 9th to 12th grade to join our growing Young Women’s Global Leadership Program, developing their leadership skills as they make friends and exchange ideas with youth in Kenya, Uganda, Kosovo, Mexico, and San Antonio in our monthly virtual gatherings and participate in projects.  Learn more     Contacts: Erika Arredondo-Haskins; cell/text 210-865-2338 or Sr. Martha Ann  

Sept. 1 to Oct. 4 is the Season of Creation. Please consider the possibility of your students being in the BrainPower Schools  art context based on the theme for this year "Let Justice Roll Like a Mighty River."  There are oppportunities for the Pilgrimage on San Antonio River sponsored by the Archdiocese, and to learn on the UIW campus from the Headwaters Sanctuary, the Solar House, the Community Garden, and the Pollinator Garden.  

"United to End the Death Penalty"  International Day Against the Death Penalty, Oct. 10, the Catholic Mobilizing Network Against the Death Penalty, UIW DEI, Texas Pax Christi, the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty invite all to a Noon Vigil, evening supper, and panel with Monique Coleman, sister of a death row exoneree; Mitesh Patel, son of a murder victim; Dr. Doshie Piper, Professor of Criminal Justice. Register for events.  After the Incarnate Word Sisters experienced the brutal rape and murder of our Sr. Patricia Anne Kelly, we had a chance to met the family of the man who killed her.  We have worked against the death penalty. It is not the way to lessen violence

For information on the Season of Creation and Sustainability, see  

Two promotional films for the Season of Creation events in San Antonio:   and a shorter one

Season of Creation film series

Compostaje (Spanish):

Cooking Natural/Organic from garden to table:


Pollinator Garden:

Solar House

UIW Community Garden Tour:

Community Garden:

Blue Hole:



 Care of Our Common Home  taken 2 years ago (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle):