The Stars Allign
★ Maribah was accepted into the 2022/2023 Inter-Congregational Collaborative Novitiate (ICCN) in Chicago, Ill.
★ Maribah’s application for an H-3 visa was made and on June 21, she was given approval for a visa! Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. worked with us on the process.
★ Maribah’s U.S. travel plans are now underway.
I thought it might be good to understand the application process for Maribah’s visa as well as her timeline in Loretto. The visa process has been long, intensive and sometimes frustrating. Maribah deserves commendation for all the work she did, as do those who supported her with gathering documents, writing recommendations and all the other aspects of obtaining a U.S. visa. The same can be said for the work done by Maribah and others in completing her application to the ICCN program.
Maribah will be in expert hands with her two directors, Nancy Gerth SCN and Corrina Thomas FSP. Kudos to these directors at ICCN who went many extra miles to answer the myriad questions about the program, about Catholic Theological Union professors and about the daily ICCN program in detail. Thanks also to Ellen Dauwer SC, executive director of the Religious Formation Conference. Ellen wrote a detailed letter for the visa application, explaining ICCN’s unique program to U.S. Embassy personnel. Truly it takes a village, and we had the best.
In 2019 Maribah began her informal association with Loretto and entered the Come and See program. A debt of gratitude goes to Nasreen Daniel, who had the vision for a program in Pakistan. Prior to the Come and See program becoming a reality, I had the distinct pleasure of working with Nasreen and Barbara Nicholas to make it a Loretto program. As time went on, we knew that we wanted it to be all inclusive and engage the talents and wisdom of our U.S. Community members. A huge thanks goes to the 20 U.S. Loretto individuals who have graciously given up time — sometimes early in the morning — to be on Zoom with the Come and See participants. After a year in the Come and See program, Maribah wrote a letter to Barbara Nicholas and asked to begin Loretto’s formation program. Barbara affirmed her request, and thus began her journey in January 2022 in the first phase.
Simultaneous with this request, Samina Iqbal was appointed assistant novice director. Since January, Samina, who is enrolled in a formator program in Pakistan, has accompanied Maribah in learning more about religious life and life as a vowed Loretto sister, as well as discerning her own call to becoming a Sister of Loretto.
During the last few years, we in Loretto have asked, “What is emerging?” I think the most affirming, positive answer to this question is right before us. Loretto in Pakistan is growing, there is new life, and a potential vowed member is now a reality. It is happening. It may be small, but there is growth. Those in the Loretto Community may never see the growth in Pakistan, but does that really make a difference? Mary, Ann and Christina could never have imagined Loretto today in 2022. We and our Pakistan members may experience the same thing. Loretto in Pakistan is growing. Let us celebrate! In this world of 2022, Maribah will live with five other women — all of whom come from countries with unique and meaningful customs and rituals. Loretto will be enriched by Maribah and this international community.
Let us continue to pray with and for Loretto in Pakistan and now especially for Maribah Ishaq, who in July will begin the second phase of Loretto’s formation program as a novice. With joy and appreciation, we know deep in our hearts the reality of “Never forsake Providence, and Providence will never forsake you.” I would like to add “us” to this. Loretto is listening to the Spirit and going forward with eyes open and hearts alert. Let us all savor this special moment in Loretto. Welcome, welcome, welcome Maribah!
Last but not least, special thanks to Lillian Moskeland, another Loretto gem who, with me, structured this four-part interview series. Special thanks to Christina Manweller who created the Pakistan “Stars have Aligned” graphic.