2016-03-10 09:42:00

Voices of Faith: A Bronx tale

(Vatican Radio) The power of faith can move people to achieve amazing feats and in the process make the lives of others better. For one woman it was that faith that led her to found the Siena House shelter in the Bronx, New York which has been welcoming homeless women and their babies for the past 26 years.

Sr Mary Doris, an educator by profession describes how after a period of reflection during a Jesuit retreat, she came away with the conviction that she was being called to help the poor.

She recalls that after returning to her mother house, she was in the buffet line when two other Blauvelt Dominican Sisters said to her that if she was thinking of taking on a new ministry, why not come to the Bronx. The rest as they say “is history” and her work with the homeless began.

Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s interview with Sr Mary Doris

Sr Mary describes the last 26 years of her life as a “journey of faith”, a path that has led her to house and help young mothers and their babies. The women come from all over the world. Most of them have suffered abuse, feel unwanted, and have little education. The ultimate aim for the young mothers is to help them make the transition from homelessness and poverty to a life which offers security, independence and new opportunities.

During our interview you get the feeling that Sr Mary’s “journey of faith” has come with heavenly hints and help along the way, as she recounts how one particular project got started. “Recently, in 2013 I got a call from Carnegie Hall through the department of homeless services, “sister would you be interested in a project that Carnegie Hall is starting, it’s called the Lullaby Project and they help the Mom’s write Lullaby’s for their babies”, I thought wow, that’s beautiful and so for the past four years we have had artists from Carnegie Hall come and help our women write Lullabys.”

Sr Mary was in Rome for  “Voices of Faith”, a story-telling event celebrating women from around the world in the context of “International Women’s Day, and sponsored by the Catholic philanthropic Fidel Goetz Foundation

She said that participating has been a learning experience and that the event has made her realize that the women she is dealing with in the Bronx are not unlike the women in India and Africa or elsewhere and she adds, “it makes me feel part of this world”. 

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