As I reflect on yet another Easter celebration and a renewal of our faith, there are a few things that stand out in my memory. As we attended Easter Sunday Mass, the sense of joy and a spiritual re-birth that takes place is truly amazing. It seems that even we older parishioners can still experience a renewal of our hopes for a better world. It is also spring and a time here in more northern climates for plants and animals alike to grow again. When I am searching for a topic for these articles and am having difficulty deciding, I can always use the experiences I have of doing home visits for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. It was rather appropriate that during Holy week, we were busy with five such visits.
One of these visits really left me with a sense of peace and joy. We visited an elderly, indigenous lady whom I shall call Mary, who shared her home with six other family members ranging from older children to great grandchildren. As we talked, she mentioned that she was a survivor of our residential school system of years past which took indigenous children away from their families to anglicize them and assimilate them into our culture while eliminating their indigenous culture and language. Some of these children never saw their families for years and sadly, with a number of these innocent children also suffering from physical and sexual abuse.
Mary calmly told us that she was a victim of abuse while at a residential school but is having a difficult time receiving any compensation from the church or government due to a lack of evidence. While Mary spoke, there was no anger expressed but more a resignation to her situation. As we had several more visits to make that day, we gave her some help with food expenses and said goodbye. I plan to visit her again as a friend when there is more time to sit and listen to her as she tells her story. While there was sadness during this visit, I also left Mary with a sense of hope that perhaps by simply being her friend we are both renewing our hopes for a better world.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.