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A Series of Blessed Encounters

[caption id="attachment_5181" align="alignleft" width="175"] Sr. Joye Gros, OP is currently on a 2-week mission serving refugees in El Paso, TX.[/caption] In 2014, Diego Fares, SJ, wrote THE HEART OF POPE FRANCIS:  A NEW CULTURE OF ENCOUNTER.  He described how Pope Francis called for a culture of encounter. How ‘Gospel’ of Francis. Francis not only speaks of this but he demonstrates it.  He not only calls us to preach this way of living the message of Jesus but challenges us to live it by our actions.  His iconic words are more than metaphorical. As Joanna Magee, Norah Guy and I approached this two weeks of ministry at the border, Francis’ Gospel challenge rang in our ears. It was easy to be overwhelmed by the crowds (they arrived by the dozens each day).  However, we tried to make each encounter personable.  Sometimes it was helping a family pick out fresh, clean clothes.  We rejoiced when the garment not only fit, but was an item that matched their tastes.  One 3-year-old girl found a pair of pink sneakers that she wanted - but they didn’t fit (Remember Cinderella?).  Mom, however, found white ones that did fit, sparking a tug-of-war that I sympathetically (and wisely) let mom handle. It was a moment of encounter! When other responsibilities allowed, we met the people departing the buses and arriving at our shelter with a warm handshake and a welcome: “Bienvenido” or “hola”.  It was in the eyes....the warmth and the welcome.  A moment of tender encounter! There were two trips when Norah and I brought children and parents to the Emergency Room.  Nurse Joanna trusted them to our care and received them when we returned.  A moment of encounter!  When dad and baby were preparing to leave, they came to say goodbye and ‘Muchas Gracias.'  A moment of grateful encounter! Though I could speak only minimal Spanish and ‘medicaleze,'  I bonded quickly with two young moms with sick babies as we sat in the doctor's office.  The next day we celebrated the effectiveness of the meds - their babies were so much better.  Then we got to ‘shop’ for sweaters for their children.  We even found jackets for each mom!  We rejoiced in common language-smiles, cheers, and clapping.  A moment of celebratory encounter!

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