“We Hear the Cries of Those Who are Poor”
by Sister Katherine McGrath
“What do YOU do?” I remember so vividly that Sunday morning at Saint Mary of the Angels Parish in Roxbury, MA where the congregation had sung the psalm refrain, “The Lord Hears the Cry of the Poor”. In the homily, the celebrant asked if those words we had repeatedly sung had given us comfort. You could hear the murmured ‘yes’ in response. “Yes” he continued, “the Lord does hear but I have two questions for each of you this morning. “Do YOU hear those cries?” Then after moments of deep silence, in almost a whisper he asked, “What do you DO when you hear those cries? Truly hearing them makes you responsible to be compassionate in action”. He finished there and we sat for many minutes in such prayerful, reflective, communal silence with that question, “What do YOU DO/I DO for the poor?” That Sunday morning, that simple homily, the soul searching questions and the shared communal, reflective silence still prompt my heart to this day. (I continue to be a member of the parish and the active Social Justice Committee.)
Recently I was asked, “As a Sister of Charity what inspires you to make ministry choices?” These are some of the responses that immediately flooded my heart:
“…by rendering to Him every temporal and spiritual service in their power in the person of the poor.” (Constitution)
“…show forth the love of God by serving those in need in a spirit of humility, simplicity and charity.” (Constitution)
“…to be in solidarity with the economically poor.” (Chapter 1980)
“Moved by the pain of the world and by the energy of our charism …” (Chapter 2008)
“From this place that we call home, how will I live charity today … because it matters”. (Chapter 2014)
And always, always the words of Matthew 25, “When I was hungry …”
Inspired by these sentiments, my ministries as a Sister of Charity have been so enriched while responding to those in inner-city parish communities; in our Sisters of Charity mission in Peru; while being a presence of hospitality to those seeking refuge at the southern border in El Paso, Texas; and in reaching out to new people in ESL, Adult Literacy programs. In each of these missions, the words of Saint Vincent de Paul challenged my style of ministry: “Let the poor be your teachers”. They were and they are! From them, I learn humility, simplicity, charity and gratitude.
In this time of pandemic, we Sisters of Charity affirmed in our Chapter 2020: “Loved and energized by the One who calls, we hear the cries of those who are poor”. How often also during those days of Chapter we sang with such gusto, “What shall we do with so great a love, so great a love?”
That great love of which we sang is our ‘unstoppable charity’! Together we must invite/inspire each other to hear the cries of those who are poor so prevalent today knowing we are blessed with response-ability to do so.