By Jane Cruthirds
Here are brief summaries of the stories told on Pentecost Sunday at St. Michael Church in Jeffersontown during a program called “Face to Face: Stories of Charity, Hope and love:”
There was the story of a teenage rape victim who was abandoned by her family, pregnant, with nowhere to turn. Another about a young college-educated mother trying to make a life for her 16-month old son and break the chains of poverty.
A teenager who fled war-torn El Salvador to live the American dream was also part of the narratives, as was a homeless youth who was so grotesque that she was shunned by her peers in a youth shelter. Each person was alone on a road paved with despair and obstacles.
The stories were told by special guests who have dedicated their lives to restoring God-given human dignity to those whom society has forgotten.
The message behind the event at St. Michael’s was this: Be renewed by the Holy Spirit, break out of your comfort zone and care for your neighbors in our human family.
Keynote speaker Sister of Charity of Nazareth Nancy Gerth challenged the audience with an idea from contemporary theologian Walter Bruggemann: “Be present to the pain of the world and your fear will be forgotten and you will be willing to give everything to help.”
Each of the individuals in the stories shared on Pentecost Sunday came into contact with compassionate heroes who provided for their basic needs. Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Louisville, were represented during the event’s panel discussion.
Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center provides information, counseling, medical referrals and prayer for those who think they have no other choice than abortion. Little Way, located in downtown Louisville, reminds their clients that making a life choice is possible.
St. Vincent de Paul provides services to the homeless in Louisville. Their downtown campus provides housing, meals and services to men, women and children struggling with homelessness, mental illness and addictions.
Both organizations welcome new volunteers to be Christ’s hands and feet in the earthly kingdom.
A married woman, with a beautiful son and daughter, is able to provide stability and love to her family. A mother, still in poverty, has hope that she can make a life for her son. A naturalized citizen with a beautiful family is running her own business. A teenager has transformed the hearts of her peers and was loved unconditionally — no longer alone, living a life still filled with obstacles, but with the knowledge of Christ’s unconditional love modeled by others.
Jane Cruthirds is a parishioner of St. Michael Church in Eastern Jefferson County.