- Not So Far Afield Vol 20 No 2 – March/April 2011
- The Global Water Crisis
- Not So Far Afield Themes for 2011
- Water Water Everywhere…
- Other Resources on Water
- Checked Out Our Website Lately?
- 2010 Appeal – Our Best Response Ever
- Mission Immersion Opportunities
- Threads and Prayers: What Holds Together a Mission From God?
- Remembering Anne Weir
- Catholic Women Commit to Peacemaking
- An Untimely Death in Guatemala
- 2011 Maryknoll Affiliate Conference
- Conference Schedule
- News from the Knoll
- 100th Jubilee Celebrations
- All Pages
Threads & Prayers: What Holds Together a Mission From God?
When it comes to the HIV advocacy of the small Father Price Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter through its C.A.R.E. ministry, it is persistent prayer, along with a vision and faith in what one is doing for others in the name of God, which provides the driving “engine.” Seventeen years ago, a small church discontinued its HIV outreach. Gabriella Hieb, known to friends and colleagues as “Gaye,” envisioned what that kind of outreach could be and do and took it over. The tiny non-profit became Coastal AIDS Resource Effort. It grew under the efforts of a core group that was vitally committed. It developed a board of directors, and moved C.A.R.E. to a cramped storefront in Wilmington, a small “beach” city in southeastern North Carolina.
In her recent interview with me, Gaye reminisced about how the missing ingredient in C.A.R.E. before she took over the helm was spirituality. She remembers how that core group of supportive discerners who helped with C.A.R.E.'s conception prayed and prayed about the direction and spiritual tone that C.A.R.E. would embody. She emphasized the group's commonly-held connection to the vision and work of Father Thomas Frederick Price, the first native-born priest from North Carolina (1860-1919) and cofounder of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in 1911.
Many in Gaye's core group, as well as Gaye herself, desired missionary-type immersion experiences similar to Price's. The needs of the “Global South” were—and still are—so critical that the hearts of those in the group cried out to become hands of God in impoverished and remote locations in Africa, South America, Mexico, the West Indies, and Asia. We can imagine that the heart of Father Price must have ached similarly for those who lived in the great Eastern country of China. Gaye, and many others of her C.A.R.E. team today, say that they feel connected to Maryknoll and to Father Price through the work they do locally, even when they are not able to go abroad themselves.
Over the years, C.A.R.E. found allies, friends, donors, and helpers. Donated items were utilized frugally to help affected children and families. What wasn't donated was scrounged—a few art supplies saved here, paper products put away there, borrowed venues from clergy friends, office supplies provided a bit at a time by helpers who wanted to gift the children—all these are the “threads” that weave and crisscross to hold a non-profit together.
The vision of advocacy for those living with HIV and AIDS did not stop with providing book bags for school children in the fall or surfing lessons for the campers in the summer. C.A.R.E. provides crafting groups for the empowerment of women. Affiliate members are always on the lookout for jobs for the unemployed. Families are treated to an annual “party” boat ride from the pier at Carolina Beach. And one year, Gaye went so far as partnering with Duke University to bring a chaplaincy program to Wilmington to certify eight medical chaplains.
On Wednesdays, one can find Gaye and her helpers on a delivery marathon taking donated food and toiletries to shut-ins and to those who live in nursing homes. Tuesdays and Thursdays are office days. In 2010, C.A.R.E. participated in the Department of Social Service's “Work First” program to give office work experience to underemployed, under-skilled adults. In May, a “Tribute to Broadway” fund-raiser featured professional entertainers, musicians and even a troupe of actors, all arranged and sponsored by C.A.R.E. and other donors. Every June, lucky children have a great week of fun at an annual beach camp.
Periodically, C.A.R.E. provides workshops to promote emotional healing through topics such as forgiveness and acceptance. One of the favorite workshops includes crafting a “dreambook” from personal pictures, stories, stamps, and stickers. This type of engaging activity encourages the person's spirit and mind to break free of former impediments.
C.A.R.E.’s outreach celebrates many of our holidays. At Thanksgiving time, food baskets, including hams and turkeys, make tantalizing gifts for C.A.R.E. recipients. Christmas and Hanukkah are its busiest seasons. This past year, couples danced in formal wear at a Holiday Ball, teens enjoyed their annual disco bowling party, and children and siblings received gifts, goodies, and a visit from St. Nick.
One of Gaye's greatest joys as a Eucharistic Minister is placing the Blessed Sacrament on the tongue of those hospitalized, then sharing a prayer or a bit of scripture. Her other joy as a chaplain (when she's not chasing her Yorkies or caring for her grandson), is holding the hand of someone passing into the arms of the Lord. For Gaye, being present to someone at the end stages of life is particularly meaningful. “If we are let into that part of a person's journey, we are privileged,” she told me once.
For many of the C.A.R.E. team, and for Gaye herself, feelings for HIV-infected persons run very deep. “What if that little child has no present to open on Christmas morning?” she said one day to me, tears in her eyes. If C.A.R.E. closed, that is what could happen. That is why her daily prayers for people, friends, associates, and donors come so naturally and abundantly every day. That is why she scrounges; a little prayer here and a little thread there. A prayer and a thread, that is what many non-profits are hanging by. God blesses those whose lives are missions from God.
Through small ministries like C.A.R.E., wondrous fruits grow from the seeds planted by pioneering priests like Father Price. I expect he had very few resources when the first Maryknoll priests were sent out to a tiny mission in China. It is probable that Price arrived at Yeungkong with very little, holding his mission together by prayers and threads, as most charitable endeavors do. He died a bodily death in Hong Kong in 1919, but Thomas Frederick's heart, spirit, soul, and love for people live on. Even today we can witness his love living on in rural missions from South Dakota to Namibia, Thailand, Peru, and Ciudad Juarez. Father Price is still here, alongside the Maryknoll Affiliate Chapter and its C.A.R.E. ministry, urging hearts onward, to care about the orphan, the widow, the afflicted, the poor.