Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sister Maria Rosa Leggol

Thanks to Anchoress for this story from National Catholic Reporter every so often a particular Catholic woman's vision and accomplishments make her a celebrity. Such was the case with Mother Teresa, and in the small Central American nation of Honduras, such is the case with another formidable nun: Franciscan Sr. S, founder of the Sociedad Amigos de los NiƱos...... Leggol's confidence in divine providence is legendary, if also sometimes a bit frustrating to her more practical-minded associates, who wonder how they're going to pay the bills and care for all the kids she agrees to receive. (Her motto is, "We always have room for one more.")

To take just one example, Leggol used to be a frequent visitor to the main penitentiary in Tegucigalpa. (She says the only good thing about Hurricane Mitch is that it knocked the structure down, which she described as filthy and inhuman.) On one visit during the 1980s, she saw 40 kids living in conditions she called "fit only for animals," and without hesitation she told the prison authorities that she was going to take them in. Impulsively, she flagged down a passing bus and asked the driver to transport her and the kids, despite the fact that her homes were already bursting at the seams. When they arrived, Leggol said she got off the bus first and spoke to her staff. "Curse me later," she recalls telling them. "But for now, put on happy faces and make these children feel welcome."

The children got off the bus, and the worried staff did their best to be upbeat. Yet, Leggol said, the undertone of fear about how they were going to accommodate the new influx was palpable. Just as the bus pulled out, Leggol said, a large truck pulled into the compound. To everyone's astonishment, on board was an unexpected and unannounced gift from a local benefactor who happened to own a furniture store: 40 new beds, exactly the number they happened to need.

This reminds me of something Jim Erwin, a coworker with HelpingTulsa told me. Frequently a company would bring a large load of computers to be refurbished, and he knew that pretty soon after they arrived someone would come in needing a large number of computers. A need that could be filled based on the large delivery we had just received.
That remarkable coincidence seemed a sure sign of divine favor, but one doubting Thomas in the group nevertheless ventured: "Okay, they can sleep, but how are we going to feed them?" As if on cue, Leggol said, another unexpected truck arrived, this one groaning with donated surplus food from the United States Air Force: ham, sausages, eggs, and other staples of the American diet that seem luxuries to many poor Hondurans.
A similar incident, also from HelpingTulsa: We had a large number of our Children's Image and I called Tulsa Public Schools, to see which of the elementary schools was in a low income area, and we would offer them computers they could give to some of their better students so they could have a computer at home. One of the guidance councelors came to pick up the 10 machines for her school, and I told her be sure to get the Children's Image and not the Super Child image, because those were ones we gave to church schools. As soon as she got Hawthorne Elementary's computer to the school she called again and ask if she and her pastor could come and get some for their church. I told her yes, and they both came over. He said he had just been talking to someone the previous day saying they should figure out some way of helping educate the children in the church. I told him that is how God works. He has the answer ready for you almost before you realize the need.
"We ate for a month and a half from that truck," Leggol said. Given such experiences, it's not difficult to understand why Leggol is convinced that God wants her work to continue. It's also easier to understand her iron will.

No comments: