Strong, Unified, and Here to Stay

by Leah Landry, current Precious Blood Volunteer
The women of PBMR. Not a phrase you hear often at a Center started by four priests as a safe haven for young men. But over the past few years, the women in the neighborhood have become vital members of the PBMR community. On Saturday, February 3, these women gathered together to christen the new Mother Brunner House – the Women’s Center – with a mural that depicts the strength, serenity, and power of the women of PBMR.
The project included women from three programs at PBMR: the women of the advocacy group Community and Relatives of Illinois’ Incarcerated Children (CRIIC), the women from the Mothers’ Healing Circles who have lost children to incarceration and gun violence, and the Young Women’s Group, the newest program for women.
With the help and direction of PBMR’s teaching artist, Alberto Alaniz, the women gave suggestions of the words and images that come to mind when they think of the women of PBMR. The answers were as varied as the women themselves: unity, strength, love, hearts and stars, peace signs, mother and child. Then representatives from each program consulted with Alberto and together the group came up with the image for the wall. A few weeks later, over 20 women gathered at the Mother Brunner House to paint in the image.
You’d think a room full of 20 women, ranging from ages 6 to 80, painting a huge space with lots of color would be a chaotic scene, but the space had a peaceful, collaborative, and happy feel.
Mrs. Wingard, the eldest and wisest in the group and a member of CRIIC, shared her reflections on the day: “Just to remember that I put a paintbrush on the wall and Fr. Kelly and Julie and Sr. Donna are gonna walk through there and see the mural and I thought ‘Wow, I really feel a part of that’…And then to think about them getting the house and putting something on the wall that actually reaches out to the community. [The mural] shows families coming together and it’s not just one ethnicity. It’s not just black, not just white, not just latino: it’s everyone coming together for a common cause, for our children, for our community.”
Shumeka Taylor, a representative of the Young Women’s Group, said that putting the handprints and quotes on the wall was her favorite part. “The hands was so nice. We all who had been doing the part of the wall and engraving our names and a nice quote and that’s something that’s going to live forever in the house and I like that.” Shumeka added “From the older women to the young women, I truly enjoyed it. The older lady put the French braid in my hair while I painted the rest of the mural because they didn’t want paint to get in my 26 inches. I greatly appreciated everything that went on that day.”
Aldena Brown, a member of the Mothers’ Healing Circles, felt Helen Keller’s quote “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” captured the essence of the day.  “That day of the painting felt good. Everyone working together, good laughs, music, and food! That moment was like nothing mattered. Painting that mural was everything, just being a part of something so meaningful. That gave my heart joy and peace in that moment.  My mind drifted to a great place pushing that paintbrush. Yes, I must say that will be a day I’ll never forget! I was a part of that painting coming to life! I’m very thankful!”
The women of PBMR are leaving their legacy all over PBMR and the neighborhood, from the relationships they make to the steps they take towards their goals to the beautiful mural that will greet all the visitors of the Center. From now on, every person who walks through the doors of the Mother Brunner House will know that the women in the community are an integral part of PBMR: strong, unified, and here to stay.
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Our Lenten Path, Week Two

by Vicky Otto, Director of Precious Blood Companions

One of my favorite movies is called “Love Actually.” At the beginning of the movie you see a large crowd gathered at the airport. As the camera pans across the crowd everyone’s face displays a sense of anxiety and stress. The second time the camera pans across the crowd the faces begin to change. Suddenly they see their loved ones that they have been waiting for as they departed the plane. Faces were transformed from tense and stress filled to faces filled with love.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the disciples as they saw Jesus transformed. As one author wrote, “Jesus was transformed by his love for God and by God’s love for him.” Just as in the airport when faces were transformed from stressed filled to love filled Jesus was transformed because of God’s love for him. But like the disciples, we are not mere spectators in the gospel. With the disciples, we are given a glimpse of Jesus’s identity which in turn will allow each of us to experience the transforming power of God’s love.

Every day we get a glimpse of the God’s love. When? When we experience the love and care of a family member. When we experience people reaching out to help someone else. When we experience the beauty of a wonderful sunrise, sunset. When we experience the peace that comes from our time in prayer. I’m sure that you can list more. As a community that is bound together by Precious Blood spirituality any time we reach out to another to share the gift reconciliation we offer that person the same glimpse that the disciples had. But we are human and there are times when we block those opportunities to revel in these experiences. Sometimes we intentionally close ourselves off to listening to Jesus, to all that he invites us to and that he invites us to do. Sometimes we don’t want have that total trust in the love of Jesus. During this season of Lent, we are given the time to consider what parts of our lives needs transformation. Reflect on these times that we have blocked things out or that we haven’t been open to listening to Jesus. May each of us recommit ourselves to trust in the love of Jesus and to courageously step out to share this love with others so they may have a glimpse of the transforming power of God’s love.

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