Deborah Fries, Editorial Board Member, Terrain.org reflects on her experience of Maris Stella Retreat and Conference Center (New Jersey Sisters of Charity) and her encounter with ” the Jersey Girls of the Catholic Church, who act on what they believe.” The following excerpts are taken from her website which includes an interview with Regina Bechtle, SC.
I am not Catholic. I am at most a secular Christian who attended Sunday School and Lutheran summer camp as a child, and who once had a speaking role as the angel who appears to the shepherds. I regard my Judeo-Christian inheritance as a collection of rich metaphors, a point of view that I do not reveal to people of faith. Until I visited the Sisters of Charity retreat, the only nun I’d known had left the life years before I met her.
The Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth—also known as “New Jersey Sisters of Charity”—are one of 13 congregations of religious women who act out of the charitable traditions of Saint Elizabeth Seton, Saint Vincent de Paul, and Saint Louise de Marillac. They love the poor. They are social activists who take on the plight of immigrants and detainees, human trafficking, genetically modified foods, climate change, and violence in the Congo. They serve the poor. Their ministries might include teaching English as a second language, building a children’s park in El Salvador, being a social worker in Jersey City, or teaching health care management to college students. They are the Jersey Girls of the Catholic Church, who act on what they believe, recently organizing an Ash Wednesday march from Ellis Island to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
And after all that activist charity and hard work, they and their New York Sisters of Charity, and even the lay community, can come to upscale Harvey Cedars to sit on the beach, close their eyes, listen to the gulls overhead, be present with Creation.