I meet Shan again, finally, after what seemed to me to be a very very long time. She traveled, to Italy and Portugal and Spain, while, on my part, I finally got my Green Card and got back to working. Pretty big deal. We were not able to keep in touch, except for a few emails, because while traveling, she wrote to me, “I was so caught up in the experience that I only lived in the present.” Which is wonderful. I need to learn that again – engage with my circumstance, my present. I guess my rehabilitation from idleness – my free-time-only life – is still a long way to go.
We meet at the same place as last time, on a beautiful summer morning, to get breakfast and catch up. It’s been a few weeks, but that closeness that I felt that first time is still there, intact. Actually, it’s grown over this period of time spent apart because I have been writing about her, about me, about the two of us; I have been thinking, reflecting, and giving opinions; I have been devoting time to this relationship, which enabled me to discover how meaningful it is. So this time spent apart was not really lost or wasted; it was the time when I made the decision to care and invest.
We chat about her trip, and my new job, and our vacations. We chat about the blog, about what I have been writing. I want to keep going, but I need to know more to write more. And the first thing that I want to know about after all this writing is probably what I should have asked from the very beginning: what is Catholic Charities of California? What do they do? Where? And how? For whom? I have read, and looked for information, and asked friends. But I want to hear from her, I want to know the ways she knows and to see the way she sees.
So I find out that each of the 12 Diocese in California has their own Catholic Charities, and they all run different programs with one purpose: provide social services on behalf of the Catholic Church to those who are in need. Social services of many different kinds, from immigration consulting to health advocacy to food education. It seems to me, they actually offer people a chance for their dignity as human beings back wherever this is trampled on, or denied, or taken away. Because, I feel, not having the money to buy decent food, or going to the hospital, is hurting people in our right to life as children of God – every single one of us was worth the blood of Christ.
Then, I discover, there is Catholic Charities of California, where Shan works, which represents the local Charities statewide, advocating for them by working with foundations, and the government, to get funding and run statewide programs. So Shan interacts with many different people from many different backgrounds. And gets the job done. People, institutions, the government…they all want to keep working with Catholic Charities. She tells me that sometimes they all even forget they are Catholic. For one good, great reason: because they won’t talk, but love, and embrace, and accompany. This is how the Church works and evangelizes: Catholic Charities serves all, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, marital status. I think to myself, “yet, I myself do not practice what I preach”. Thanks to God, they do; because, as Jesus said, “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”