by Debbie Bolin, Mid-Missouri Companion
This journey began to take shape as early as last February, when one of my students asked out of the clear blue, “Mrs. Bolin, are we going to do a mission trip?” I have been praying for my students to want to do a mission trip for several years but I guess it had to be their idea…and the Holy Spirits! So, I emailed Fr. Dave Kelly at the Precious Blood Reconciliation Center in Chicago and it went something like this: “Dear Fr. Dave, you don’t know me and I don’t know you but I would like to bring a group of students to see and experience your work at PBMR.” I gave him several Precious Blood members he could check with so he could be assured I’m not as crazy as this seems…and so as Fr. Timothy wrote last week our adventure began…
The 8 hour trip to Chicago, with excitement and anticipation began and seemed quite fast and easy. We were ever so welcomed with opened arms and hugs in the warmest Precious Blood way and a meal … of course, with Jonathan, Jo Jo, Rawel, Sr. Donna, Sr. Caroline, Fr. Dave Kelly, Brother Juan, and the 5 of us. Following the meal was the Circle prayer, where we began our journey to get to know each other a little better. One question that was asked and answered was: “What are your expectations for the days ahead?” The answers varied from meeting new friends, to hope for a changed understanding of our relationship with all people, no matter where they come from or their ethnicity. We are all God’s people made in His image and likeness. Fr. Dave’s response was one of relationship. His hope for our relationship that we have friends to come and visit in Chicago and they can come and visit Missouri!
The transformation that is taking place on the neighborhood grounds of the Precious Blood Reconciliation Center is quite beautiful and amazing! Sr. Donna Liette is in charge of all of the beautiful beds of flowers and gardens around the prayer garden and the buildings. Sr. Caroline Hoying is responsible for the Community garden, where we went out each day and gathered some fresh lettuce and vegetables for our meals! While we were there, Home Depot brought and set up a new gas grill. I can see the Neighborhood Block Parties already beginning!
As the week progressed and word got out that there are some new guests at PBMR the evening numbers of visitors began to increase and we truly did get to see a cross culture of people and put names to faces. Chicago is a myriad of culture, art, and people. The Precious Blood Center is a diamond in the rough, working with the community; the mothers who have lost sons to violence or have a life sentence without parole and of course the boys. The guys that come to PBMR understand their need to be loved, to be paid attention to, to be treated like worthwhile human beings with the hope that they will finish their education and become productive citizens someday.
The Precious Blood Reconciliation Center is living the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy; Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, offering hospitality to the homeless, visiting the imprisoned and burying the dead, instructing, counseling, comforting, forgiving and praying for the people in their community! Yes, we not only have friends in Chicago that we can go visit and help, we have a loving family! Thank you! Precious Blood Community for allowing us this opportunity!
Look for my next few articles: ”The Sugar Shack,” “I am, I can, I will,” and “It’s not your typical day!”