Nurtured in faith and service by a deeply Christian family, Marie Louise Trichet from her youth worked among the poor. Inspired by Father de Montfort and seeking to live the radical gospel of love, she chose to live as one of the inmates at the General Hospital, which in 17th century France was an overcrowded poorhouse and asylum, crowded with the sick, the poor, those who were crippled, beggars, and the mentally ill.
Today, Daughters of Wisdom continue the mission of Marie Louise worldwide in social outreach projects and programs that address the major social issues of our times: poverty in families; displacement of peoples and refugee crises; immigration and the undocumented; racial, sexual and religious discrimination; human trafficking and ecological and environmental peril. In the United States from Maine to Florida, Sisters and Associates do both direct service and systemic advocacy in their social outreach efforts. The stories that follow illustrate the Gospel imperative that transformed Marie Louise and continues to draw us “to bring the message of Jesus, Incarnate Wisdom, to people experiencing injustice, violence, poverty and oppression, especially women and children.” (Mission Statement)
SOCIAL MINISTRY in Huntington Station, NY
Huntington Station, NY is the place of our International Intercultural Community. The Community was formed in 2016 with a mission “to reach out to a growing new population in our midst. The long-term goal was for this new community of Daughters of Wisdom to be situated within a community of need and to participate in the life and growth of it giving special attention to human needs, life-giving relationships, justice issues, and the building up of faith." Pictured above are the Sisters of our Huntington Station, NY International Intercultural Community: (L-R) Sisters Teresa de Jesus Aguilar Avila (Province of Colombia), Marilyn Soeder (US Province), Maria Jesus Pinedo, (Province of Peru) and Sr. Bernadette Sassone (US Province).
In less than a year of being established, the Sisters of the International Intercultural Community have been very busy building relationships within the community of Huntington Station, NY and providing services through St. Hugh of Lincoln Parish. There they have a room, which has become known as Sophia Center for their ministry with the Hispanic people of the parish. It is where Sr. Teresa de Jesus Aguilar Avila and Sr. Maria Jesus Pinedo do much of their work.
Here is an update on what has been happening ….
Sr. Teresa has given priority to several men and women who never had the opportunity of going to school in their own countries. She is teaching them to read and write in their own language. As the word gets around, more and more people are interested in the classes and she has formed a team of three Hispanic women from the parish to help her with the students.
She also participates in the “Divine Mercy” group which includes men, women and children. This group aims at building the faith and devotion of the people. Sr. Teresa participates, not as a leader, but as one who walks with the people and accompanies them on their journey. As a true missionary of Wisdom, she participates in their activities, whether joining them to buy food supplies or helping to cook, as well as joining them on their monthly retreats.
Sr. Teresa also participates in other groups that pray the rosary and in the “Community Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” Here they receive work in preparation for the “Fifth Encounter” which is the U.S. Bishops’ renewal program for the Hispanic Community. This includes missionary work such as going in pairs to visit persons or groups in homes, hospitals and prisons.
Sr. Maria Jesus is engaged in counseling women in Sophia Center. She belongs to various pastoral groups, such as the Bible and Prayer group and the RICA for adults. She has also met many women from the Opening Word ESL program of which she is a participant. These women often request her services because they have painful personal, family or work situations. Sr. Maria Jesus believes that this service of counseling is a collaboration with Jesus. She listens to them, helps them gain confidence in themselves to solve their problems, and awakens their trust in God.
Besides other volunteer services, Sr. Marilyn Soeder (USA Province) and Sr. Bernadette Sassone (USA Province) teach English as a Second Language to men in the parish. Since the group is more than thirty men, the pastor offered a classroom in the school, which is used on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. The men are mostly young adults who are eager to learn the language, but also includes some older men who want to improve their English. The men are very appreciative and we have a waiting list of others who are interested.
PARISH SOCIAL MINISTRY
Sr. Camille Solis, DW
I have been blessed to be the Director of PSM for the past 14 years. This ministry consists of a group of dedicated, respectful volunteers from the Parish of St. Mary who respond to the needs of others in a compassionate manner. In addition to the outreach office, we have a food pantry that feeds about 100 families per month and a Thrift Shop that is open six days a week. PSM coordinates the ministries of pastoral care, social service and justice issues. We collaborate with our neighborhood store owners making it is possible to provide our clients with gasoline, haircuts, school supplies, bus tickets, and birthday presents for their little ones. We have paid rents to avoid eviction, utilities like electric and gas to prevent termination of service and storage bills for those who are homeless. We have many clients who are mentally ill. We try to advocate for them and refer them for services. We often help senior citizens by taking them to their doctor visits and encourage them to attend a monthly social get together. For the past 25 years, we have run a prayer and support group for Gays and Lesbians, Bisexual and Transvestites and their parents.
Through the years I have witnessed many success stories and miracles. It was a day in October on a Friday afternoon. It was a very filled day and I was anxious to go home; then the phone rang. It was a woman with an excited voice, “you have to take my son, he is 4 years old. I have to go to the hospital tomorrow morning. The doctor told me that they are implanting something in me that would help my cancer, but will hurt Michael if he is near me.”
What was she asking? Where do I find a reliable family who would be willing to take this little boy? I called a lawyer friend to ask about the legalities and the risks. I was told that if I heard the many risks, I wouldn’t provide a home for Michael. I called St. Mary School and asked the Principal if there was a family he would suggest for this “more than baby-sitting job.” The principal gave me the name of a mom and dad who were police officers and had 2 little girls. I called them and they said yes without hesitation. The big day arrived and Michael held on to his mother with the most pitiful face. Mom explained everything to him and he was really trying to be a big boy. He transferred his arms to me when mom left as we waited for his new temporary family. The car arrived with a young woman. Michael was not speaking to either of us. We arrived at the house with the little sulking boy. A silent hour passed and two little blond girls burst in from school. “Want to watch TV, Mikey?” Michael smiled and ran down to the basement with them. In the end the little guy enjoyed his time with his new sisters. His mom is now cancer free and I saw Wisdom’s work in action.
SEW Undergoes Transition in Leadership
As they move on from this chapter in their lives and ministries, join us in congratulating and recognizing the fine work and dedication of Sr. Ann Marie Gardiner, SSND and Sr. Marie Chiodo, DW, who together have helped to empower and structure a way to better lives and futures for the women of El Salvador.
It’s a new day and new era for SEW whose mission will remain the same but continue under new leadership as Sisters Ann Marie, Marie and their team turn leadership and operations over to their 15-year business partner in El Salvador, Leslie Schuld, Executive Director of Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad (CIS). A strategic partner since 2003, CIS is committed to continuing the work of empowering women through business development. Read all about the many achievements of SEW over the years and keep up with the future here: www.sewinc.org
(Pictured above, Sr. Ann Marie Gardiner, SSND (C), and Sr. Marie Chiodo, DW (R) congratulate a graduate of one of SEW's programs.)
Read SEW's Newsletters, click the links below.
"KINSHIP" WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER
Salvadoran Enterprises for Women(SEW) where Sr. Marie Chiodo, DW serves in her ministry had a very well attended and successful event on (11/13/16) where Father Greg Boyle, S.J., founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, was the inaugural speaker for their "An Evening With" speaker series. Homeboy Industries, based in Los Angeles, California is the largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program in the world. At this event Fr. Boyle spoke about and signed his book “Tattoos on the Heart."
What do Salvadoran Enterprises for Women (SEW) and Homeboy Industries, a gang centered mission in Los Angeles, have in common? In Fr. Greg Boyle’s words, “kinship.” In his 30 years working with gang members, he has sought to help them recognize their dignity and challenged them to transform their lives through work. Exactly, he said, what SEW does with the women in El Salvador.
Jose and David, two of the Homeboys, shared stories of a childhood surrounded by parents who were addicts and by violence and gangs as a way of life. The welcoming and loving outreach by Fr. Greg, which they often rejected, finally brought them home to themselves as worthwhile human beings “loved by God exactly as they are.” This was the impetus to change for them. Fr. Greg spoke of countless others whom Homeboys Industries has helped turn their lives around. He encouraged us in these troubled times to remember that, “No one stands outside the circle of compassion. We stand with those whose dignity has been denied; occasionally with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We stand with the disposable so that we remember that we belong to each other.”
Salvadoran Enterprises for Women is deeply grateful to Fr. Greg, Jose and David for freely offering this speaking benefit for SEW and to Fr. Stephen Planning, SJ for the use of Gonzaga High School for this event.
Pictured above (L): Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, Founder of Homeboys Industries; (R) Homeboys Jose and David with SEW Board Members Sr. Marie Chiodo, DW and Susan Saudek.
Pictured above: Salvadoran Ambassador Dr. Claudia Canjura de Centeno, (seated center) next to Founder of Salvadoran Enterprises for Women, Sr. Anne Marie Gardiner, SSND, (seated right) with SEW Board Members (standing, L) Patricia Flynn, SSND, Sr. Marie Chiodo, DW; (seated,L) Hannah Shultz, (standing, R) Susan Saudek and Tom Howarth.
Photos: Patrice Flynn
Learn more about SEW by viewing this video produced by SEW Board Member, Susan Saudek.
Social Justice Ministries
The Daughters of Wisdom have very active Social Justice Ministries within area parishes in both eastern and western Long Island, NY. In Elmont, NY, St. Boniface Parish serves a large Haitian population. Pictured to the right, are Sisters Diane Capozzi, Evelyn Lamoureux, (Human Services Coordinator at St. Boniface Parish) Marilyn Soeder and Peggy Kelliher who for the past several years have participated in the making of Birthing Kits with Zonta International of Long Island. This year (2015) 403 kits were sent to the Haiti Province of the Daughters of Wisdom, and from there they were delivered to associations that help women. Maryse Haig, a USA Associate of Wisdom and Sr. Mona Haig, DW, Haiti, (who are blood sisters), organized a network of volunteers to transport the kits from the USA to Haiti during their visits to the country. An additional 100 kits were delivered to a health team called Project Uplift in Nigeria.