See the Person Before You
“It is a mistake to stereotype women who are at risk, addicted to drugs, prostituted, or living on the street,” cautions Catholic Chaplain Dorothy Ederer, OP.
Sister Dorothy counsels women as young as 18 up to age 65. Lately the majority at Holy Cross Services in Lansing and Corcoran House near Saginaw are in their 20s to mid-30s. For the past three years she has encountered 200 women or more each year at three different sites.
“It doesn’t matter if they are from wealthy families or raised in homeless shelters, the sense of worthlessness is devastating to our society and debilitating to the human being. It is resulting in mental and physical health crisis and addictions.”
“Too many girls and women have this conviction that they are broken beyond repair,” says Sister Dorothy. “The words they hear and the ways they are treated have taught them that they aren’t good enough; smart enough; worthy enough. I teach them that neither me nor my God believes any of those things.”
“I had one young woman who told me she was a devil-worshipper. I told her, well, he may have gotten you here, but my guy is going to get you out!”
“A few weeks later she came back and said, “I’ve been reading. I want what you have; and I said, ‘You can have what I have.’ Some of these days are so heartwarming. Some days are harder. But what I’ve learned is that every one of these women is looking for forgiveness and hope.”
“Often my words are these: ‘Be honest and true to yourself. Don’t waste your God-given gifts; learn how you can use them to change the world.’”
“We must see the people before us, really see them. Where would any of us be if Jesus ignored us, if God believed we were damaged beyond repair?”
I pray for all women who are abused and suffering from drug addiction; and for all who are homeless. I pray that they continue to seek a relationship with Jesus so they can be at peace and find hope, in some hopeless situations. I pray that my heart will not become hardened or give up on these women who are seeking sobriety, hope and God.
Note: This article first appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Mission & Ministry Magazine, published by the Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids. Read more in the Spring 2019 Mission & Ministry online. If you would like to receive Mission & Ministry in your mailbox at home, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to our mailing list. The magazine is published twice per year.