BY AMELIE RODE
Recently, the other LoVos and myself made a trip back to the Motherhouse for our mid-year retreat. And though “mid-year retreat” might imply it, I was still baffled when I arrived and realized that this year of service is more than halfway over.
This realization has me reflecting back on these past six months. What has come to mind most often is my community in the Praxedes House, where all five of us El Paso volunteers live. Even now, a week and some days after retreat, I still get excited about living with them just by looking at their cute little faces.
Amy has become my cuddle buddy, and she will always pursue different activities with me when no one else wants to. Sawyer is my personal masseuse (and I am hers), and she has shaken my world a couple times with ideas challenging my own perception of myself and social justice issues I think I “know.” Mari humors me in my most ridiculous of endeavors, also (coincidentally) likes to make fun slurpy sounds, and knows how to talk some sense in any situation. Isabel’s knowledge of herself has made me crave a deeper understanding of myself, and she’s got some great one-liners that I can only dream of aspiring to one day.
Prior to this year of service, I hoped for something like this. Friendship, peace, vulnerability, and laughter. What I got was friggin’ family!
Of course, everything isn’t perfect all of the time. But I wouldn’t want it to be.
We have given each other permission to challenge one another. We are on the same page that with this, the ultimate responsibility of education of yourself is your own. We are aware of individual communication styles and do our best to respect them and respect our boundaries. All of this has the potential to lead to long conversations, to resources being shared, encouragement to look at things another way, or even a couple sentences that make you realize you need to get to stepping to wherever it is you do research and get to researching. And, whichever way it plays out, there is love, paired with the demand to do better.
At this point, dear reader, maybe you’re thinking, “Well just write a love letter to each of your roommates then and get on with it. What has this got to do with anything?”
And to you I say, maybe I already have. (Or maybe I haven’t).
I’ll also add that this reflection on my own home community has got me thinking about the Loretto Community as a whole.
For the most part, I’ve had a good experiences in encounters and gatherings with Loretto community members, Sisters and co-members. However, I also know that I am white. As are most of the Sisters of Loretto. And a lot of its co-members. Conversations with LoVos at our midyear retreat served as a great and sad reminder for me that this community and program is supposed to be great for me – I am who it was built by and, in a way, for.
Because of this, and because of the colonial history of the Loretto Motherhouse (it was built by people who were enslaved), and the organization’s failure to address its role in enabling white supremacy (to name a couple shortcomings), Loretto is inherently racist. This community claims feminism and progressive ideals as a key to its service and advocacy, yet it still can, and does, fail people of color. This is why it is so crucial that this community continue to be checked, challenged, self-educating, and growing to better serve and protect people of color within and beyond it.
I’ve seen members of this community (Sisters and co-members) be challenged. I’ve witnessed some handle it poorly and defensively, and I’ve witnessed others handle it with grace and the desire to learn more. And challenge is something that needs to keep happening for this community. We are not there yet (white) folks.
But still, challenge. We’re not growing if there isn’t challenge. And if we are not growing – if we are not pushing each other and ourselves, through challenge, to growth – then what are we doing here?
Amelie Rode is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and recently graduated from Saint Louis University with a B.A. in English and in Women’s and Gender Studies. She loves to travel, hike, camp, and garden. In her free time, you can also find her with her nose in a book or with pen to paper, creating stories and poems. Amelie will be serving at the Loretto Academy in El Paso, Texas as a student activities coordinator. She is so excited to spend a year with the rad folks at Loretto Academy and within the Loretto Volunteer Community!
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.