In 2011, I began, unexpectedly, to experience a call to return to ministry with Mexican-Americans, which I had done in the 1980s, followed by over 20 years offering therapeutic massage, first in a private practice, and then to our elder Sisters in Albany, New York. Since the call was gentle and persistent, I felt it needed testing. So I told Jesus I would do nothing about it until he opened some doors, and if He did, I would walk through them! Two months later, I met Marimer Cepeda rscj at an immigration conference in Washington, DC. Marimer, who is an herbalist/acupuncturist and holistic health educator in Mexico, said “You and I have a combined 50 years in holistic health. We must work together with my people, on your side of the border. So please get permission to do this, find a location where we can work, finance the project, and I will come and do workshops.” It took two years to complete these preparations, while continuing the ministry of massage in Albany.
What made it possible to make the change? First, the increasingly strong sense of call; second, Marimer’s invitation; third, the encouragement of Dr. Arturo Chavez, the President of the Mexican-American Catholic College in San Antonio, who suggested that we explore our dream with ARISE, a community outreach organization on the Texas-Mexico border;fourth, a specific invitation from the women of ARISE to teach the immigrant families they serve to reduce stress. Finally, the excellent mentoring of Imma De Stefanis as I answered the 14 questions generated by Barb Dawson’s team. In hindsight, I see how helpful it has been to have had to envision what we were doing, in terms of goals, objectives, funding, evaluation, and other practical aspects of developing the project, which we call “Dreams Without Borders/Suenos Sin Fronteras.”
Advice on risking a dream: Discern it, and pursue it! I have never experienced the action of Divine Providence so powerfully since we listened to this call. It has borne tremendous fruit—not because of us, but because God’s initiative is powerful, and makes mustard seeds grow into beautiful trees. Be not afraid.