Growing old… but staying bold

Over the years, the Daughters of the Holy Spirit sisters in the U.S. province have actively collaborated and volunteered in various charitable organizations.
I’m privileged to serve with the sisters and other lay volunteers in helping different organizations through various appeals… and to have the opportunity to bear witness.

It’s a relief to know that the throwaway society is gradually disappearing thanks to a charity like Windham Area Interfaith Ministry (WAIM), which provides services and resources to meet the needs of the poor with dignity and respect. Among the free services and assistance offered are clothing, household items, furniture as well as help with medication, food and rent, etc. Their main annual fundraiser is “Walk for Warmth”: in recent years, several of our sisters have taken part in the drive to purchase much-needed fuel during the winter months. Saturday, January 22, 2024 was Corpus Christi Parish’s volunteer day for WAIM. Sister Marie Pauline, Sister. Gertrude and I joined the group that morning: volunteers sorted clothes, cleaned and rearranged the thrift store (store for a cause).

Pourings & Passages Bookstore is another second-hand store. It is a bookshop and café opened in November 2015 by Jim Weigel. The bookshop was set up for the sole purpose of providing funds to enable the only St James Catholic School in the town of Danielson -in Connecticut-, to operate. All profits, after expenses, are donated to the school each year. All the contents of the store are donated, and the current 30 employees are all volunteers.
Sister Lesley Despathy has been a volunteer at the bookshop since its inception. As soon as it opened, she set up computerized signs throughout the bookshop. Over time, requests came in from customers to sell religious items, and Sister Lesley volunteered to lead this project, in addition to her usual activities of designing and making simple jewelry. Sister Claudette Huot volunteered to make rosaries, which were very popular and sold out quickly. There is also a section for selling cards for all occasions, an additional time-consuming task: Sister Caroline joined this project. A few years ago, Sister Marie Pauline volunteered to work on sorting and packaging the cards. Recently, I was delighted to join their ministry.

The “Danielson Veterans Coffeehouse” was established in April 2015. Its mission is to provide a comfortable place for all veterans, men and women of all ages, to meet and discuss information about veterans’ benefits and services through federal and state agencies and programs.
The Center has established numerous community partnerships and outreach initiatives, including blood banks, flu shot clinics and non-perishable food drives for area food banks.
One of their outreach initiatives is the “Mobile Food Pantry”, open to all, which takes place every first Thursday of the month in Putnam, on the site of the local food bank. Over two hundred families come to take advantage of the food donations. All the disadvantaged people of Massachusetts and Rhode Island travel to Connecticut to benefit from this service and feed their families. Those who use the pantry can receive a wide variety of fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy products, other staples, and snacks.
Nearly 50 volunteers involved in all facets of Coffeehouse operations, including veterans, family members and passionate community members, are the backbone of this project – without them, the organization’s members couldn’t do this work! -. Sisters Michèle and I participate in this program.

Sister Irène visits 14 people in the parish to whom she brings communion at home.  She first spends time with them to listen to their concerns and worries: which comforts them a lot… and her vibrant personality gives them even more joy! It’s true: our mission has no limits!

My new community is the epitome of the HES community, where the Rule of Life is lived out day by day, particularly in chapter III of the Rule of Life –For the Mission of the Church-, article 11-. Eachmember has his own ministry according to his abilities and strengths. Witnessing their active lives in their 80s and 90s teaches me more about how to tune my life to the Rule of Life. As one American FSE sister said, “We may be old, but we’re not cold”. Their inspiring example shows me what it means to be a true Daughter of the Holy Spirit in this day and age.
Praying, living, and collaborating with one another within the community and the Church, strongly underline Article 12, paragraph 2, which says: “There is no mission for us without worship, without a call to the Spirit…”.

Written by:  Sister Marilou IWAY, DHS (originally from the Philippines)
All Hallows Community, Moosup, Connecticut, USA
Published April 2, 2024

The photos
* WAIM. Main street store: – 01
* In the bookshop: – 02 – 03: Sr Lesley displays her handmade jewelry, assisted by Sr Marie Pauline, while Sr Caroline sorts greeting cards in our workspace. – 04: from left to right: Sr Lesley, Sr Marilou, Jim (founder of the bookshop) and Sr Marie Pauline.
* At the Coffee house: – 05 06: Sister Michèle and I were in charge of putting desserts and cookies in each box. – 07: We also helped distribute food, vegetables and fruit to over 200 cars waiting in line for their turn. – 08 – 09.
* Taking communion home: – 10 – 11