Sister Anne Marie Burke tells us of her experience while volunteering at Loreto/Nazareth Hospitality Center, in El Paso, Texas.
By Sister Anne Marie Burke
I served as a volunteer at the Loreto/Nazareth Hospitality Center for immigrants in El Paso, Texas. I arrived in El Paso on March 15th,2016 at 4.15 p.m. and Sister Beatrice Donnellan a Holy Spirit Sister met me at the Greyhound Station and we walked to Casa Vides where S. Beatrice volunteers. Casa Vides is only a few blocks from the bus station. I was there till 8.00 p.m. After having dinner with the residents and volunteers Marissa, a youth volunteer took S. Beatrice and I to the St. Joseph of Concordia Sisters Convent where I had hospitality till March 26th, and then I moved to the Loreto Sisters Convent and was there till April 11th.
On March 16th Rose Mary, a youth volunteer picked me up at 6.45 a.m. and we went to Nazareth Center for the 7.00 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. shift. While waiting for Eina Holder, the director of Nazareth, Rose Mary shared with me the tasks of the morning shift. When Eina came she gave me an orientation of the Center and gave me a written job description for volunteers to study.
Volunteers worked 2 shifts – 7.00 a.m. – 2.00p.m or 2.00 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday – Friday and the Center was closed on weekends. Usually 30 – 40 immigrants stayed overnight and then moved on to their relatives the next day. Since the shifts were covered with coordinators I accompanied them to learn the different tasks / welcoming the immigrants, intake of personal information, directing them to their bedrooms with their care package, contacting their relatives to coordinate their transportation and contact a driver to take them to the bus station or airport, explain to the person travelling where they needed to change buses or planes etc. The meals were usually donated by different parishes.
My experience at Loreto/Nazareth Center Hospitality Center was a time for me to accompany the immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and also some from Brazil, Cuba and Ethiopia on their journey to liberation. Most of the women had small children with them. As I reflect on my experience there I am aware of God’s loving care of the poor and suffering manifested in the caring volunteers and how we participate in God’s redemptive love as we serve each other in solidarity. I am humbled and thank God for all His blessings in our lives and for the opportunity to receive and share His love with others.
Holy Week services was a very special experience as I participated in 2 different parishes and the Franciscan Seminary. On Easter Sunday Sister Fran a Franciscan Sister invited me for dinner on Easter Sunday with her 2 communities.
On April Sister Becky Perez invited me to dinner the Olive Garden to celebrate the feast of the Incarnation together and the Saturday before I left El Paso Becky picked me up and we had dinner at her house and went to Mass at Mount Carmel. Becky’s warm hospitality was second to none.
I also visited Hermana Petra Peña in la Ciudad Juarèz. Sister Rita Nealon accompanied me. Hermanas Ma. de los Angeles y Raquel were not present. Petra shared with us her how she works with women in her ministry.