Mother Teresa’s work came from a deeply held belief about the way God sees the world, and how He wants it to be. Certainly, when living in the grip of poverty, people can feel like they are invisible, hopeless, and even worthless….. and saints like Mother Teresa are champions for them. This is one of the reasons that Catholic Charities has claimed her as our patron: one tenant of Catholic Social Teaching recognizes the dignity and worth of every human being. While we don’t live and operate on the streets of impoverished Calcutta, we do welcome people who are desperately trying to provide life’s necessities for themselves and their families and try to offer assistance. Daily, the Catholic Charities staff encounters heartbreaking stories.
- A single mother of 5 just released from a hospital stay, with no food in the house to feed her children
- A man recently released from incarceration with no phone, no money and no place to stay
- A woman who finally secures a job offer, but has no funds to purchase the tools she needs and has to provide as a condition of employment
Often, our Serve&Lift Center is able to meet food and hygiene needs; our Welcome Center is able to address rent and utility arrears to avoid eviction, and our Employment Services program is able to assist job seekers connect with and present themselves well to potential employers. Those are life-giving outcomes. However, the situations are dire, the stories are wrenching, and confronting the ravages of poverty day after day takes its toll, as sadly, we cannot assist everyone who comes in with a request.
At those times, Catholic Charities staff, following Mother Teresa’s lead, focus on providing dignity and worth to each person, at each interaction. One of the ways they do so is to turn to prayer.
Deanna Ricke, an employment specialist, says poignantly, “when I’m with a client who is facing barriers, and there seems to be no way around them, I do what I do when I don’t know what to do: I pray. I pray with the clients before they leave. I pray with our team at our 3 p.m. daily prayer in our chapel. And often, I hold our families in my heart when I attend Mass.”
Deanna shared this story after working with one particular client whose situation seemed hopeless. “After meeting this woman, I couldn’t stop trying to find suggestions to help her. The next morning, I went to Mass and stayed after to pray a Rosary. I was joined by a woman I did not know. The woman asked me where I worked, and I shared that I was with Catholic Charities, just down the road a couple of miles. She joined me in prayer for all our clients who are facing crises.
Twenty minutes later, I was sitting at my desk when the receptionist called to tell me I had a visitor. It was my prayer partner. ‘I want to help the people you serve,’ she said quietly. She handed me a check and walked out.
I was in awe of the power of prayer. Simply making our clients’ needs known to a prayer partner inspired a gift that would help clients who are facing life situations that appear to be hopeless. “
Deanna concluded, “we are often able to relieve a crisis like long term unemployment or facing eviction, and that’s a wonderful thing. But I’m hoping that what clients remember most is our care for them. I hope they always recall that when there seem to be no other options, nowhere else to go, we do not give up. We pray. And prayer makes all the difference.”
In your prayer time, we ask that you remember Catholic Charities and the men and women who are helped by our agency. Joining in prayer can truly help bring about the world that God wants to see.
Interviewer: You love people whom others regard as human debris. What is your secret?
Mother Teresa: My secret is simple. I pray.
By: Deanna Ricke, Employment Specialist at Catholic Charities of Kansas City- St. Joseph