Building a Shelter: St. Gianna’s Place

Originally published at Leaven for the Loaf.

After a long search, the board of St. Gianna’s Place has made the announcement I’ve been waiting for. From Facebook:

With great joy and gratitude, we announce that St. Gianna’s Place has found a home! We signed a lease on February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. We will soon be opening our doors to welcome pregnant women in crisis and their babies. We are grateful to God for leading and inspiring us on this journey, and we are grateful to our supporters for making this possible.
We humbly ask for your continued prayers and support as we prepare to open our home to some of God’s most vulnerable. We are hosting a Go Fund Me event to raise money to purchase necessary items for our new home. If you would like to help, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/StGiannasPlace.
Again, thank you for your continued prayers and support.
“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His Goodness.” St. Gianna pray for us!

How fitting that the lease was signed on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, given the faith and persistence of the volunteers who have brought the project this far. Housing for pregnant and parenting women in crisis is at a premium in southern New Hampshire, and St. Gianna’s Place will be part of a solution. The home will be in Hudson, and the opening date will be announced later. Right now, the task at hand is to prepare the building for occupancy.

Please view and share the Go Fund Me page set up by St. Gianna’s Place volunteers. Their immediate goal is $1000 for basic things like linens and cleaning supplies. A modest donation can go a long way.

I recall listening to a St. Gianna’s board member a couple of years ago, describing the vision driving the project. “Our Calcutta is right here,” she told me, comparing Mother Teresa’s mission field to ours here in New Hampshire, where so many more shelter beds are needed.

The signed lease goes a long way toward bringing the vision to life.

Someday’s here; now what?

My neighbors’ generators hum in the background as I rummage through a pile of work assignments in search of one I can perform without benefit of internet. The power’s out, after an overnight storm. As a freelance writer and researcher, I find the lack of internet access nettlesome. Even cell service is affected today.

It’s quiet as I select the files I can work on. Only a few billable hours in there, but that’s better than nothing. I can work without distractions. The only device at hand is a pen.

As I realize that, it occurs to me that I’ve spent much of my life wishing for days like this. I was sure that if I only had more peace and quiet, less need for structured time, I could…fill in the blank: pray more, study more Scripture, read more devotions, study Church history. I’d go on retreats. I’d have time for more than a morning offering before diving into the day.

I am blessed with children, and grateful for them.  I was blessed to be their “stay-at-home” mom. My husband made that possible. Parenthood never ends once launched, but my kids are now grown. The intense day-to-day five-kids-at-a-time whirlwind is behind me. I distinctly remember thinking in the midst of that whirlwind that someday, things would slow down. Someday, I’d have quiet days to work on other things.

So what am I doing this quiet day? Setting up to work, that’s what. No work, no pay. The power outage nonetheless leaves me a few hours of open time. What to do?

Draft a pitch to a client. Cull no-longer-useful files. Practice a presentation I’m scheduled to give in a few weeks. The to-do list lengthens.

The quiet day I used to call “someday” is here, and I’m finding all kinds of things to do besides the Mass and prayer and study I was sure I’d spend my somedays doing.

The very intensity of today’s quiet – no phone, no apps, no flickering screen – is forcing me to pay attention to what I’m doing, which quickly leads me to what I’m not doing.

I pick up my rosary, trying to put aside thoughts of clients and presentations and when might I get electricity back.

This “someday” stuff is hard. I thought for sure it would be easy, maybe even come naturally. Here I am, though, alone in silence but for the hum of generators down the street. I’m pacing and praying aloud in an effort to turn my attention to God and turn away from the to-do list.

Someday, it turns out, is a matter of intention. Anything less is merely a wish.

As I recite another Hail Mary, a voice inside me is mocking me for ever thinking that someday, all I’d want would be time to live my faith more fully.

Stripped of intention, left to my own undisciplined habits, my spiritual life keeps receding into one someday after another.

What was it St. Paul wrote to the Romans? The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.

Any resemblance to present company is purely coincidental.

I doggedly finish the Joyful Mysteries. I stop pacing. I sit down, pick up pen and paper, and resume work. That comes easily. The prayers didn’t.

Maybe that was the best reason to see them through.

Link: a roundup on mercy

Before the election, I wrote about grace in a graceless season. Now that the election’s over, someone far more gifted than I has fashioned a similar piece, about mercy in what could easily be taken for a merciless season.

Here’s a link to a piece on Crux by Kathryn Jean Lopez, in which she rounds up several Catholics with ideas on practical applications of mercy these days. Enjoy, and be inspired.

​https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2016/11/13/mercy-can-help-america-heal-bitter-political-season/

“An ocean of mercy waiting for us”

The Year of Mercy is drawing to a close, leaving us the commission to keep it going in our respective ways. I just encountered the #MercyStories series on the YouTube channel for the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. I was drawn to “Poster Child of Divine Mercy: The Testimony of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC” because the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Father Calloway’s order, have been important to my husband and me for many years. Their promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion has been profoundly effective.

Father Calloway’s story is one for me to keep in my heart as I see the Holy Door at the church near me closing at the end of the liturgical year. The Mercy of God knows no calendar. In hearing each other’s down-to-earth stories of mercy in action, I can see the hand of God reaching out to us in unexpected – not to say unnerving – ways. We can be inspired to hope and act in a way that manifests that mercy, passing it forward.

The full series of 14 videos can be seen at the link below. Pick any one, or binge on the whole thing. As Father Calloway says, there is “an ocean of mercy waiting for us.”