Loretto Volunteers Arrive in El Paso!
By Mallory Daily and Mary Margaret Murphy
A neon poster “Welcome Loretto Volunteers” greeted Sawyer Hill, Amy Maltz, Isabel Ngo, Marissa Nuñez and Amelie Rode on their arrival at the El Paso airport. They came directly from the Loretto Motherhouse where they participated in an orientation program with Loretto Volunteers headed to St. Louis and Washington, D.C. From the Loretto History Tour and their visits to the Heritage Museum, they learned about the beginnings of the Sisters of Loretto and the Community’s mission, spirituality and activism. From their interactions with the intergenerational Community at the Motherhouse, they heard incredible life stories that gave testimony that Community is for mission and faith moves us to action.
“In this relatively short amount of time, I can easily say that I am happier and healthier than I have been in well over a year, something that I truly could not have anticipated,” Amy said. She added that she and the other El Paso Volunteers “left a wonderful week of orientation at the Motherhouse to move into our new space and build community in a new place.”
Even while basking in the Community’s love and support, Amy wrote about how anxious she felt about moving to a new city and starting her new Volunteer position. The Volunteer year is ripe with transition, especially in the beginning. In the first few weeks Volunteers are thrown, or, rather, gently tossed, into communities, jobs, homes, friendships and organizations that are often entirely new to them. It takes courage, flexibility and openness, even a willingness to be uncomfortable at times. On top of the usual uncertainties, these five women headed for El Paso knew they were part of an inaugural group, the first Loretto Volunteers that would form the Praxedes House Community in the northwestern part of town.
Members of the Loretto Community offer encouragement and support through all the unknowns, the bumps in the road and the apprehensions that inevitably accompany the start of something new. Weeks before the Volunteers arrived, the local El Paso Community was moving mountains to make the Volunteer House into a home. As a result of their hard work and collective effort, the Volunteers opened the door on that late August summer night to a beautiful, organized space that will serve as the backdrop to their growth and development as individuals in community.
A few days after their arrival, Amelie, Marissa, Isabel, Amy and Sawyer joined the Loretto Community in El Paso for a celebration and welcome potluck dinner at the Volunteer House. The Community showered them with necessities and blessed each Volunteer as she began her year of full-time Volunteer service at her placement site the next day.
Amy concluded her online reflection with hope for her new community: “When we take the time to cultivate connections with one another, medicinal and magical healing can take place. When we begin to search and revel in the inherent humanity that each individual has, regardless of past experiences, we create a foundation upon which true equity can build. I look forward to continuing to find ways to bask in the power of basic human connection.”
The Volunteers are serving at the following placement sites in El Paso: Villa María, a residence where women who are homeless and without children can transition from crisis to self-sufficiency; Las Americas, an immigrant advocacy center dedicated to serving the legal needs of low-income immigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, victims of crime and families seeking reunification; The Opportunity Center, a homeless shelter that welcomes all through its doors; Loretto Academy’s Student Activities, where students pursue opportunities for community service and extracurricular activity; and the Center Against Family and Sexual Violence, which provides confidential assistance, educational programs and hope to families in need.