“My sisters and brothers what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it? If a sister or brother has nothing to wear and no food for the day, and you say to them. Good-bye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed, but do not meet their bodily needs, what good is that? So it is with the faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless.” “…. Be assured, then, that faith without works is as dead as a body without breath,” James 2:14. This passage from St. James continues to be the guiding principle for ministry throughout my life.
I think of ministry as a partnership with people that is based on mutual respect. A partnership where both parties grow in understand and appreciation of what each contributes. A partnership where each grows in a relationship with God that brings about a way to work together for the common good of all. My understanding of relationship grew out of my ministry in the Philippines with the establishment of the Mount Carmel Mobile Clinic. It was through this ministry along with mothers representing different barrios that the Mount Carmel Mobile Clinic was founded. Together the mothers and I were able to identify the issues that affected their lives and the lives of their children. As our partnership grew in trust, we were able to develop solutions that would improve the lives of their children. We began to see healthier infants and children, but perhaps more important the mothers became more confident that they could solve future problems.
After returning to the United States from the Philippines, my ministry took on a wider global vision. I thought if an individual could do good, what about a nation and its policies? How do the policies of a nation toward poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc. enhance our relationship with God and put our faith into action? For thirty-five years I worked in the ministry of advocacy on behalf of the poor. I’m very grateful for this ministry. It gave me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and different cultures. It gave me a deeper understanding of what misgivings we harbor towards other nations and cultures that we need to overcome.
Today my ministry has expanded to include the entire Carmelite Family. Through its affiliation with the United Nations, all members of the Carmelite Family from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central America, Europe, Indonesia, South America and the United States came together to form the Carmelite NGO. The goal of the Carmelite NGO is to actively participate in creating a more peaceful, just and loving world by advocating and caring for the spiritual and human needs of the human family and the environment.
To achieve its goal, the Carmelite NGO works through the United Nations in the areas of education for all children, both girls and boys, freedom of belief where we find common ground among Christians, Jews and Muslims, human rights especially the right to food and the right to personal security, and sustainable development with a focus on climate change especially as outlined by Pope Francis and his encyclical Laudato Si. Being a Sister of Mount Carmel has enriched my life more than I could imagine. And for this I am truly grateful.