News & Events


A Special Gift

by Sister Ancilla Maloney, IHM

Sometimes we receive a last-minute invitation to do something and our first response is, “Oh no, I can`t do that.” But grace wins out and we respond, “Yes.” My call came two days before Christmas at 8:00 p.m. to go the next morning at 5:00 a.m. to join a team of workers from APAINE, a clinic which serves poor, physically and mentally handicapped persons. The plan was to get to homes of homebound and disabled young people before their families had to go out to work. We loaded up the truck with blankets, Pantones, pillows and bags of food and took off. Our first visit was to a family who were living in a stable. All smiles to see us. Then on to Joel's home. At 19 years old, he is enrolled in an online computer program. Joel is very intelligent, lives with his Mom in a home without electricity and she pushes his wheelchair to a nearby high school where he can use the computer for his studies. His dad left them when Joel was born. Before we left, Juan carried Joel back into the house where he would spend most of the day in his bed in his one room with no electricity.

Leaving there, we traveled several miles to visit other young people who do not have any form of transportation that can bring them to the APAINE clinic for needed therapy or to San Miguel School for Exceptional Children run by the Church. Day after day, they are lovingly cared for by family members. They are not able to walk or talk, and are locked within a body over which they have no control. I thought of the children and young adults being
ministered to at St. Joseph's Center and all the services and stimulation available to them. I told myself that I will never complain about anything again—and if I start to, I better remember this day, with these young people and their smiles, and their parents and siblings smiles because we were there gifting them and hugging them.

In one home, Milagros met us with a smile from her bed. She is 14, very intelligent, cannot walk or talk, and lives in a second-floor room only accessed by climbing a very rickety set of wooden steps. It's impossible for her father to carry her down the steps to go outside. We took photos and then she burst into tears. I was imagining her huge frustration at not being able to study like her brother, Jefferson, who was delighted to hear about President Thomas Jefferson and how important he was. There are no home educational services for any of these young people.

Thank God I said, “Yes, I'll come with you,” when Margarita called with the invitation. Thank God I had the opportunity to receive the graces showered upon me by the witness of the suffering Christ in the persons we visited.