by Bob ShineBob is a Loretto Volunteer working at New Ways Ministry, in the Washington, DC area. Junia House, our volunteer house, was full by the time Bob joined the program - so he is living in a house affiliated with his placement, which we are lovingly calling "the satellite campus." He participates in community life with the other volunteers. Bob blogs at Imagine the Kingdom.
Since spring, it seems every author anywhere chimed in about the nuns – to some they are culprits of too much social justice, to others crusading bus riders extraordinaire
, and to some still the educators and mentors of a generation.
If asked in May as I finished undergraduate work where I would be come September, the answer would not have even approximated living in a convent, of sorts, with two remarkable sisters and spending my spare time with several others protesting, praying, and playing. Indeed, my time in September consisted continually of shattered expectations and surprising graces cyclically working to change me.
Risking cliché then, I offer reflections from my time living with the nuns.
Shawna Ohumay is the new Loretto Volunteer at Loretto at the UN in New York. This introduction recently appeared in the Loretto at the UN newsletter.
My name is Shawna Ohumay, and I will be Sally's intern here at the Loretto at the UN office for the 2012-2013 year. I would first like to say thank you for welcoming me so warmly into your community. I truly admire the ubiquitous presence of Loretto's commitment to community, spirituality, and social justice not only in its official works, but in the attitude and affect of each community member that I've encountered. I feel that Loretto has taken me into its arms and I am honored to have the privilege of working with and representing it.
Now for a little more about me: I am 23 years old and I was born in Washington, DC and raised in Northern Virginia. My mom is from Kenya and my father is from Tanzania; East Africa has always been a part of my life through intermittent trips to visit my extensive family. It is my profound love for this devastatingly beautiful yet heart wrenchingly destitute land that has formed the core of my need to fight for social justice.
I graduated in 2011 from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in both Political Science and Spanish. I then spent a year working as a temp at various non-profits in the DC area and looking for more long-term work. Although I was happy to have work, I did not find these positions fulfilling of my calling to work for greater social equity. Then a series of coincidences that I can describe as nothing other than the forceful pull of fate brought me to Loretto, and I am very happy that it did.
Peace & Justice,
Loretto at the UN
The Loretto Community
by Molly Butler
Molly is a new Loretto Volunteer in Washington DC. She is working at Community of Hope.
A house becoming a home - on move-in day!
As I sit here at the Junia House dining room table, I contemplate this very special place and everything it holds. Just three weeks ago five of us D.C. volunteers moved into a house with a whole lot of Loretto “flair,” as I like to call it. The sentimental wall hangings and books, eclectic styles of second-hand furniture, art and supplies cultivate a beautiful space for communal living. Many of these things provide a glimpse in to the volunteer communities that preceded ours and reflect a wide range of Loretto values. The space here is one that fosters cooking and conversation, relaxation and relationships. All of us (including our sixth member at the Maryland satellite campus) share meals around this table and enjoy picnics on our back porch. Although the house itself is newer territory for the D.C. volunteers, it has not taken long for this place to feel like home.
But what does this mean, exactly, for a particular place to be considered “home?” How do we create this safe space and more importantly, how do we sustain it?
by Anne Lacher
Anne is volunteering as staff associate at the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), and she is finishing her term of service next week. She wrote this reflection in late May.
I’ve worked at Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (with Mary Hunt and Diann Neu) for nine months now. My placement began in September, which makes this, the month of May, a very peculiar one for me. It is my first year living outside of the education system. For approximately 17 years, I have lived my life according to the educational year, beginning in September and coming to an end with the start of May. The fact that my Loretto year started in September makes it even stranger that I am now on the cusp of June and not moving on. Both ends of an educational year are marked by a new place, a change, travel.
Emily and some Nerinx girls at Founder's Day
This past April marked the 200th anniversary of the Loretto Community. Thanks to the Loretto Volunteer Program and Loretto’s Nerinx Hall high school, I had the great opportunity of celebrating this jubilee at the place that first introduced me to the community, my alma mater, Nerinx. On April 18th I traveled home to St. Louis, Missouri to visit with students, faculty and staff at Nerinx and to speak at the school’s Founders’ Day celebration which commemorated Loretto’s jubilee. This experience, beyond making me feel very old, allowed me to reflect on what it has meant for me to be a Loretto woman, a Loretto student, alum, and volunteer.
Today I can definitively say that my years at Nerinx were pivotal in shaping the person that I am today and the things I have gotten involved in. My involvement in Nerinx’s LIFE club and my participation in the El Salvador service immersion trip, the classes I took like Open Questions with Ms. Lytton and Literature of Vietnam with Dr. Bartz, all have led me to pursue other powerful opportunities. Because of those eye-opening Nerinx moments, I studied in a service-learning program in El Salvador while in college, coordinated a coalition for political and activist clubs at DePaul, and finally, found my way to the Loretto Volunteer program to work with Sally Dunne at Loretto’s UN office. After graduating from Nerinx in 2007, the Loretto values of social justice, community, diversity, and empowerment have emboldened me to live a life dedicated to working for justice and acting for peace in my local community and the world at large.
However, what I also shared with the students at Founders’ Day was that my path is only one of many that Loretto women have chosen as a means of living out these values. This photo was taken of my lunch table at Nerinx on our last day of school senior year. I can proudly say that each and every one one of these women is living out the Loretto values in their own unique and powerful way, whether its Mary Davis, who is becoming a St. Louis teacher with Teach for America, Lucy Herleth, who is working with the Student Conservation Association to facilitate conservation and environmental education programs in a New York state park, or Shona Clarkson, who engages with the Latin American immigrant population in Lawrence, Kansas. Each one of these women is inspiring and is living out these values, because as Loretto students, alumnae, volunteers, or friends, we are all called to action.
by Molly Chamberlain
Molly is a Loretto Volunteer in our Maryland volunteer house. All our Maryland volunteers take the bus to work.
I hear you rattle up the road
An 18-wheeler filled with old tin cans
The moon still hangs in the sky
But your bright orange headlights flood the street
Light splashes up against the curb and pours onto the sidewalk
Wheels creak to a stop
You kneel before us all with a hiss
A sigh of relief
And announce to weary travelers
“To Farragut Square!”
You make every morning feel like an adventure
Can’t wait to climb aboard
Race back and take my post
Starboard side by the great glass panes
Sunny pull-cords smile above windows.
We ride together through neighborhoods and backroads
I watch the world flash by
The sun rises and turns the sky golden
Rays push through your windows
Splatter light onto the pages of my latest book.
We are closing in on N Street
You shout a cheerful “Stop Requested!”
When I tell you I must leave
Climbing down from your mighty blue hull
I step into the cool morning air
I watch you speed away.
I seek comfort in the thought of another adventure.
I am not the only DC/Maryland resident inspired by public transit. While writing this piece, a friend of mine from another service corps recommended a song about the 42. Enjoy this piece about The 42 Bus
by Lilla Hassan
Lilla is a Loretto Volunteer working as a Site Coordinator at For Love of Children, which provides tutoring and educational services to students in D.C.
When you are young, everyone asks you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When I was younger, my answer was a doctor. The person who I look up to as one of the most virtuous beings in my life is my father, and he is a doctor. I was born in a place that for centuries has been the center of religion and politics: Rome, Italy. My family is originally from Somalia, but my parents moved to Italy in their 20’s to attend medical school. When I was six, my family made the decision to move to the States in search of a better education for me and my two brothers. Even as a young child, I operated under the assumption that if I worked hard, any goal was well within my reach. However, my perception shifted dramatically after a single day working at For Love of Children.
Kathleen Stephan is a Loretto Volunteer serving as a legal and social services case manager at Bread for the City.
As Loretto Volunteers we are called to live a life of simplicity. I began thinking about this concept after I graduated from college in the spring of 2010. I had committed to a year in El Paso, Texas with the Border Servant Corps- a community based program with a similar mission to Loretto.
Throughout my year in El Paso, I was amazed to realize that simplicity brings forth generosity. My trust in community grew and slowly I began to let go of my fears of not having enough. Our kitchen was never empty and the table was always full. I left the desert with an understanding that our society reveres convenience. We, as people, have immediate access to anything. It is a hard truth but my commitment to simplicity has required me to rescind my entitlement to convenience.
by Kathleen Stephan
By Molly Chamberlain
Molly is a Loretto Volunteer serving as Program Assistant/Activities Coordinator at Bethany Women's Center at N Street Village.
Hello, my name is Molly Chamberlain and I am a Loretto Volunteer living in Junia House in Washington, DC. For those of you who identify with the Enneagram, I am a 3. You may have already guessed that this brief reflection took weeks to compose because, as a three, I was preoccupied with the message it would send about me and the house (especially after Anne's brilliant piece
This reflection comes to you several months into my volunteer year and I couldn't be a in a better place.
by Anne Lacher, Loretto VolunteerAnne is currently serving as a Loretto Volunteer at WATER, the Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual.
A 1, a 3, a 7, an 8, and a 9 walked into a house. No, this is not a joke. The house is Junia, and we, the Loretto Volunteers, are as different as night and day and everything in between. After an exhausting week spent baring our souls and sharing our pasts, we set off across the knobby hills of Kentucky and through the Appalachian Mountains, bound for our new home in Mount Rainier, Maryland. The Motherhouse had armed us with our Enneagram numbers, nailing down our personality types, communication styles, and behavioral patterns. No two women were the same; five volunteers, five personality types, one house. A recipe for disaster?