Margaret Cessna is a member of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. After teaching social studies and theology in high school for 27 years, she founded and for 10 years served as executive director of Heartbeats, a network of women who developed world and minority artists. For the past 12 years, she has been a family mentor for Catholic Charities' office of Migration and Refugee Services. As a freelance writer, she has published in journals, newspapers and magazine, and has written two books.
American sisters are women who turned on a dime after Vatican II and took on the world. They drew new lines. They changed the face of religious life. Not for being mean but for being smart, kind, generous, energetic, determined. Though we're aging and fewer in number, our work goes on with hope and vigor.
"What do you need?" I asked. She never made eye contact with me. I would like a sandwich for my daughter and me. That's all she said. I tried to chat a little. Not what they needed. They needed food for their bodies.
Mum gave her children a wonderful gift of theology: Come on in. Stop over. Don't be a stranger. No need to guard your heart. No need to measure your generosity. She had no tolerance for racists or bigots. She had a capacity for anger for anyone who hurt or mistreated children.
How could it take four hours for three refugee children with an appointment to get immunization shots? It wasn't because they are refugees. It wasn't because they are Asian.