Three Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart will leave their home in Northeast Philadelphia this month to journey across the country and across the ocean to bring assistance, comfort and compassion to those in need.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby will travel to Ghana, West Africa; Sister Diane Bardol and Sister Eileen White will go to El Paso, Texas.
Sister Mary Elizabeth will join a small congregation of Ghanaian Catholic sisters at Nazareth Home for God’s Children in the small village of Sang in northwest Ghana.
The orphanage is a refuge for “spirit children,” children who have been abandoned by their families because of their physical or mental disabilities or because of cultural superstition about the day of their birth.
Sister Mary Elizabeth was invited to take part in this medical mission by a former colleague from her teaching days in Atlanta.
“We will stay in Sang for two weeks, accompanying dental and audiology outreach teams who come in to service the children and the neighboring villagers,” she said. “I will be working with the young Ghanaian sisters serving there, giving them a spiritual retreat and some classes on religious life. I hope to be working at the school with the children as well.”
She sees her journey to Africa as a way of continuing the spiritual and advocacy history of the Grey Nuns, whose ministry to the poor and the marginalized began in the 1700s in Montreal, Canada.
Sister Diane and Sister Eileen will volunteer at Annunciation House in El Paso, which provides temporary hospitality, advocacy and education for men, women and children arriving at the U.S. southern border, seeking asylum from the violence of their home countries, especially Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
The sisters are ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever work is assigned to them. They will be joining more than 200 members of religious communities who are volunteering at border towns, assisting – in various ways – people seeking asylum or trying to connect with relatives who already live in the U.S.
“Immigration and Customs Enforcement processes families and single adults, turns them over to Customs and Border Protection and then releases them to Annunciation House,“ Sister Eileen said.
“Most stay at Annunciation House for only a few days before they move on to live with relatives as their case is being adjudicated. I feel privileged to go to El Paso and help to provide some support for these weary men, women and children who have traveled thousands of miles to seek a better life.”
Sister Diane summed up the purpose of the sisters’ journey: “We, like hundreds of other Catholic sisters who are volunteering at border towns, are simply living our vocation – to go where there is a very human need and bring compassion to the people and the situation.”
Grey Nun Academy in Yardley is a sponsored ministry of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.