“Begin to Weave and God Will Provide the Thread: Ladies of Charity in Action”
There were 150 Ladies of Charity from across the United States who gathered in their usual sense of love and acceptance of one another to celebrate the work of our associations and to strength the outcomes and enthusiasm for our work. The 40 ladies of the two associations in Utah assisted by the other associations of the Western Region combined their efforts to present a truly successful assembly. Programing was moving and outstanding and Salt Lake City was a charming venue. Debbie Chadwick, LCUSA President presided over the Assembly with our opening Mass celebrated by Rev. Richard Gielow , CM, Spiritual Advisor of Ladies of Charity. Oscar A. Solis, Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, assisted and also warmly welcomed us.
I would highly recommend reading, soon to be on the LCUSA website, the presentation by Sister Margaret Keaveney, DC , the first Plenary Speaker: “Begin to Weave and God will Provide the Thread.” She spoke so powerfully of the Vincentian call to serve the poor, even when it might lead us outside of our comfort zone. We must trust in God’s providential love for all of His people and filial trust in his unending gift of thread to weave our Vincentian Tapestry as we serve the sick, the poor and the marginalized. We were asked to always follow Vincent’s admonition, “First the heart, and then the work.” When we see and/or feel a need, we must reach out to do what we can to bring peace, comfort and justice.
Sister Paule Freeburg, DC gave a wonderfully thorough and insightful account of the unbelievable courage of Louise de Marillac in establishing the Daughters of Charity. Vincent had asked her to establish an order of sisters who would serve the poor and marginalize “in the field”. She successfully founded the first order which was not cloistered, amidst great opposition, but “weaving with God’s thread”.
Perhaps the most unique speaker was Joseph Raymond Lucero, from Home Boy Industries in Los Angeles. He used his own story, “Escaping Gang Life through the help of God and Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J.” to enlighten us about street life of troubled young people. Joey was a third generation gang member whose family was also involved with heroin addiction. Beginning at age 9 he was in youth detention and state prisons for 12 of his first 26 years of life. Currently, he does outreach as well as presentations for Home Boy about “change is possible”. His message helps bring an awareness of the issues facing the formerly incarcerated. Joey is also an actor known for Mayan M.C., Gridiron Gang, and Shameless. He received an enthusiastic standing ovation from the LOC.
We were treated to breakout sessions where we heard about four of the successful outreach programs in Salt Lake City: “Give Me a Chance”, “No One Dies Alone”, “Inn – Between”, and “Welfare Square”.
The excellent advocacy work our own Marie Copeland was mentioned as the “posterchild” for other regions. Her report was a popular take-away on the advocacy table.
We were not without many opportunities for fun: captivating tours of the area, lunch with new and old friends, directed sharing at tables, fun competition during the silent auctions, visiting as we were weaving tapestries that were taken home by four region vice presidents, some really fun square dancing Friday, and following the Mass at the spectacular Diocesan Cathedral, a sumptuous farewell dinner fostered wonderful friendships and so many happy memories.