|Sisters Margarita, Graciela and Aurora|
This year our presence to each other is just as challenging. Many people are not aware that the sisters have two mission houses in the United States. In one of them, Emporia, Kansas, the sisters oversee a Latin American immigrant community, with many of their parishioners working in the meat processing factories. As we well know, these laborers have been highly exposed to COVID 19, and the community of three sisters were exposed to the virus. The death of Sister Aurora Villamar, who was in her mid-seventies is a witness to how utterly generous the sisters have been in serving our country.
The community of Josefina Maria Valencia, which was responsible for the school that many groups visited, just a block away from the Motherhouse, was also exposed to the virus. On one night, two sisters died: Sister Margarita Guzman, and Sister Graciela Cuara. It was a real shock for us when the sisters contacted us of their death, and it must come as a real shock as you read this.
Since we have had some time to absorb this pain we can feel what the sisters wrote to us from the first: They were grateful that the sisters did not die alone. With Sister Aurora, the sisters were able to go to the hospital and because of the generosity of a Hispanic nurse were able to be with her in her final hours. Sister Margarita died in her sleep at home, and Sister Graciela also died at home, surrounded by sisters as they waited for an ambulance to take her to the hospital.
Our presence to each other at this time is precious. Both the living and those who have gone before us in faith are present in our hearts when we listen and are quiet; as we grieve; and as we pick ourselves up and continue serving one another with love. When we proclaim, "Our trust is in God," the words have never before been so laden with meaning. Our faith is our hope.
In trust and in the light of faith we continue our journeys, but as the pandemic continues the distance we must take from each other is not getting larger. We journey as one family.