Day 5: The Ministries of Sister Eileen Mahony, CSA
This blog post is part of a series reflecting the experience of six CSA associates as they visit the sisters in Bisbee and Tuscon. The views expressed here are their own personal reflections on the time spent near the border and with the sisters; they are not necessarily endorsed by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes.
Joy crept into our hearts today, guided by Sister Eileen Mahony, CSA, we entered the world of hope and possibility. Beginning at Saint Elizabeth Health Center, where Sister Eileen works in family practice, she gave us a brief history of the center and it's functions. As we toured the facility, we were amazed and in awe of the medical team and staff, their professional care, and its impact on the lives of so many in the fields of oncology, family medicine, women and children's health, behavioral health, social services, dental care, and eye care.
We felt deep gratitude for their service and commitment to their patients, realizing communities throughout our nation can accomplish great things when working together.
After a brief lunch stop at Culver's, it was time to visit Casa Alitas, the respite center for asylum seekers. Our heads filled with data from the past week, Sister Eileen was able to clarify the journey of those seeking asylum in the United States.
Arriving highly traumatized and exhausted, the refugees exit the buses and are met by the volunteers and welcomed into the center. After a gentle hand washing they are given fresh water and fruit followed by homemade chicken soup. I can only imagine their relief being in this building, once a juvenile detention center, now transformed into a place of warmth and light.
Screened medically by the volunteer medical staff including Sister Eileen, the healing so desperately needed is given with the utmost attention and care.
Guided by Sister Eileen, we tour the facility starting at the welcoming center, to the clothing store, recreational areas for art, sports of basketball and soccer, movies, the medical area, garden, and a chapel for prayer. Along the way colored pictures made by the children and art pieces fill the spaces of this incredible refuge.
After the tour we had the opportunity to be with the children and families coloring pictures, using play dough, and carving pumpkins. After being at Casa Alitas and with great care the children are able to smile, be creative, and a few even learn to count to ten with the guidance of Associate Mary Beth Nienhaus.
Upon leaving, we knew this experience had etched a very special place in our hearts transforming our souls and we would never be the same again.