JPIC News -- November 2014

It is November 1st and I have to set the clocks back tonight so as not to be late for Sunday Mass tomorrow. The cold is here now and, on one hand, I reckon that it is five months til spring. Not too bad. Five out of Twelve months of good weather. Not so bad because today I will make a pot of soup and get some good bread. Last night was Halloween. Nicole dressed the two dogs up as Tigger and Eyore from Winnie the Pooh. There are bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter hidden (from me) in the Fridge to nibble on. Tonight after we do some chores, we will turn on the fireplace, maybe watch a movie. Grandma America will call from Florida to make sure that we are all right. Soon it will be Thanksgiving, then Christmas and Easter. We will all be together. We are not fighting. We like each other and get along. We love each other. We are a family.

But across the street, it is different. Joey will call his father in Florida tonight. Then he will call his Mom for the weekly phone call. Over the holidays, he will go to the casinos. He will get wasted on Christmas Eve since he has the next day off.

Sixty miles from me up Rte. 206 near Bordentown, Michelle is going to the PX. The four kids will see their dad on Face Time on a little laptop screen. He will tuck them in tonight because she will be working 6 to 11 at the diner if she can get a sitter who can handle them. He has been deployed three times before.

In Bridgeton, Alicia is pressing tortillas for the day. Antonio needs to get the money out of her purse for Pampers for the baby. She is working 18 hrs. today. She tells him “Don’t open the door for anyone when I am gone.” Antonio knows better and he tells her that.

Tom and Gary are living together in Ventnor. They were college roommates. Now it is different.
Tom’s mother does not know yet. Gary’s parents are dead. Tom and Gary probably will not be asked to Thanksgiving dinner with Tom’s family this year. It is complicated.

Jill is looking up what time is the Ala Non meeting tonight. Her eldest has stolen $20,000 from them so far. He was valedictorian. His eyes are always funny and he can’t stay in the house for long. She asks where he goes at night. He tells her “Out”.

Marvin is driving his Mother and brothers to Leesburg State Prison. There they will all be screened and he will be patted down. His older brother, Jamar, will be released this spring. Maybe he can work in the car wash. Marvin will be mugged tonight walking to the corner market in Camden. He will not bother to call the police.

May Lin will work all day with the mask on doing nails. Tonight she will be locked in by her captors. She will be trying to remember her mother’s face when she gets off tonight.

Michael is in solitary confinement at a juvenile facility. How many days has it been? He cannot remember.

Jim will buy a Hungry Man Turkey TV dinner for himself on Thanksgiving and watch the game. Maybe he will have a beer and a smoke. He is in the Senior Towers.

Phyllis will wait for the Eucharistic Minister to come. She will make coffee like she always does, hoping that Mary will linger over coffee and help her turn on her cell phone.

As we approach the holidays and draw our own families closer to us, let us remember that our concern should be not only for our families, but for our Franciscan family. Fraternity life offers so many opportunities to minister to our own who are estranged from their own families or left utterly alone because they have had good genes and outlived spouses and dear friends. Can you broaden your own understanding of family to include those who have no family or those whose family is distressed or broken?

Our Rule and the life of Francis exhort us to be minors, lesser brothers and sisters, and we are asked to be with the poor and the marginalized. We no longer can content ourselves with reruns of Donna Reed and the Walton’s and hope that our children can get back to those times, because those times were not so great for most of us. A privileged few have wonderful memories but some of us have no such legacies and have never had the benefits of a loving family free from violence, poverty, addiction, persecution, discrimination and loneliness. How can we companion the least of these and move with Francis to the outskirts of the city where the lepers dwell and be gift to a hurting world. ? How can we be present to the least among us with these new paradigms of family life? Do I dare leave my house and my own little world?
Kathleen Agosto, OFS
JPIC Animator

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