By Kay Sweeney, Associates Program Facilitator
As Associates of the Sisters of the Presentation in San Francisco, following the charism of Nano Nagle, the foundress, we each have a work that we consider our ministry. For some it is our job and for others it is as a volunteer. The pandemic has challenged us all to find a way to continue our ministries.
Associate Olga Barrera (pictured above, left) has been volunteering at the Lantern in San Francisco. The Lantern is a hospitality, advocacy, and learning center for immigrants. Before the pandemic, she was volunteering four days a week at the Center. In the middle of March, due to the pandemic, the Lantern closed. She has been able to continue her volunteer work at home. The Lantern director assigned students to the volunteers. Olga has two students that she teaches English language thru WhatsApp video. Once a week she calls ten students to see how they and their kids are doing. These students, all women, are so grateful and she feels lucky that she can be of some help. She says that it is challenging but very rewarding!
Associate Yolanda Santillan has two ministries. She facilitates Monday Night Bible Study at her parish church, St Gregory the Great and she assists developmentally disabled adults in the community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the parish church has closed to the public. She started Zoom meetings for the bible group, but it was difficult for many to participate because of lack of computer equipment, internet, and the unfamiliar way of doing Bible Study using zoom, so the group decided to take their usual summer break. Yolanda is trying to get the group started again on Zoom. She found those who had participated before were delighted to see and hear each other and the fellowship they shared was amazing.
She has been able to work from home via telephone doing well-being checks on her developmentally disabled clients. They enjoy hearing from staff and sharing how they spend their time at home. She has learned that people need people. They need to hear from one another via phone calls, zoom meetings, or even letter writing. Currently, she also is caring for a senior citizen by bringing her groceries, doing light cleaning and walking in the evenings. They find peace praying the rosary together and it has made the pandemic less restricting. Yolanda (pictured above, center) considers this type of work a ministry of caring for others.
Associate Rochelle Ramirez’s (pictured above, right) ministry is with La Clinica de La Raza, a non-profit clinic which provides health care services to marginal and uninsured individuals in 37 clinics located in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties. During this pandemic, although the clinics are working on ‘reduced’ hours, they continue to provide essential services to patients. Her job is to oversee the leased properties and review all work orders submitted by each clinic. A demanding job in the best of times. During the pandemic, all her work is done remotely. That is a challenge when she is unable to be on-site to review the work and be sure it is proceeding as planned.
Despite the challenge of the pandemic, Associates Olga, Yolanda, and Rochelle have found ways to continue their ministries. Nano would be proud of them.