As first year seminarians at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, we are sent out two by two to spend the month of January on a poverty immersion, and when I was told that I would be going to a nursing home in Gallup, New Mexico, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had never heard of Villa Guadalupe before, or even Gallup for that matter! When my friend Miguel and I arrived on January 3, I have to admit that I was nervous being in a place I have never been before, with people I did not know. But, if this first year in seminary has taught me anything, it has been to put myself completely in Christ’s trust and care, especially at times in life when we may not know what’s around the corner.
It is hard for me to put into words the incredible things I have seen and experienced since my arrival at Villa Guadalupe 30 days ago, but what I can say is that Christ is truly present in those we serve, and in those who serve. If I had to describe the Little Sisters of the Poor, who dedicate practically all of their time to the residents here, it would definitely be joy!
The sisters are a well-organized, joy-filled machines with a deep love and conviction for Christ and His children, and being able to work with them, I have seen incredible examples of what St. Paul describes as love in First Corinthians. Truly, Love is patient, kind, and does not seek its own interests, and this was shown to me in the day to day workings of the little sisters.
The Little Sisters may be the heart of Villa Guadalupe, but the Residents are its soul. Being able to work so closely with the Residents here has been truly a gift, with each Resident having their own unique personality, background, and walk of life. On the bus ride to Gallup, I remember asking the Lord to help me see him in the faces, and in the conversations of those I was going to serve, and almost immediately when I arrived he was not hard to find! The Residents share in the infectious joy of the sisters who serve them, and I very quickly fell in love with beautiful sense of community found here.
The Residents don’t require much more than a genuine smile, a hand to hold, or an ear willing to listen. These small acts have made a lasting impact on my heart. I give thanks to almighty God for sending me to Villa Guadalupe. I cannot honestly think of a better place to have served him and as I head back to the seminary it is nice to take some time to reflect on what I will be taking back home with me: The joy of the Little Sisters, the new found trust I have discovered in the Lord, and above all, the love that the sisters, and the residents have poured out upon me, creating a tattoo on my heart, that I hope to share with the rest of my brothers back in Denver.
Sam Munson, Archdiocese of Denver