By Sister Catherine Hertel, SSMO
During the 2010 SSMO Chapter, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon proclaimed the following:
Responding to Jesus’ mandate to love one another
and prompted by our charism,
we commit to using our gifts, skills and resources
to work for justice
as we journey in solidarity with the vulnerable,
particularly the immigrant. (Chapter, 2010)
In 1886, ten German speaking Precious Blood Sisters/Candidates were asked by Archbishop Gross to “be his Sisters” here in Oregon and to minister with the newly arrived Catholic people in the area. It was not until 1905 that English became the official language of the community. At that time, many of the Sisters had to take on the task of learning English themselves. Little did they know that future Sisters would be continuing their efforts to assist future immigrants.
There is a great need for adult immigrants to learn English so that they can conduct personal/financial transactions accurately and justly, secure work, interact with neighbors, support their children, and perhaps even work toward U.S. citizenship. (ESOL rationale)
It is impossible to name all the ways in which God’s Holy Spirit has blessed this ministry:
• Since 2011, several thousand immigrants from more than 40 countries have shared their lives with each other in the process of learning English.
• Each year, twenty or more volunteers have grown personally through the sharing of their lives and experiences with others.
• A new school has been built, and the classrooms once used for the education of children have been retrofitted to meet one of todays’ urgent needs.
• SSMO education ministry has broadened to include people from around the world.
• At a time when many immigrants are suffering systemic injustice, they are now being welcomed into this “mini United Nations” of inclusivity and respect.
What would our Foundresses say to us today? “YES!!!!!”