Image via WikipediaSome of our sisters are in Buffalo, New York this week attending the Franciscan Federation's annual conference. This year's conference focuses on the theme, "Passionatley Embracing Gospel Living." We're really proud of the fact that our Sr. Lynn Patrice Lavin is facilitating this year's conference. I wish I were among those attending--the keynote speakers promise great things: Br. Bill Short, OFM, and Sr. Clare Andre Gagliardi, OSC! However, I know that those who are there usually order tapes etc., so I'll have a chance to savor the presentations when they return!
One of the highlights of each conference is the recognition of one person from each congregation who exemplifies through his/her life the spirit of the conference theme. The federation established the following criteria for those who will be honored this year.
- alive and passionate
- allow the light to shine through them with radiance, transparency, clarity, and optimism
- are a beacon of light to others, especially the marginalized
- witness to the challenge and power of gospel values in daily living
- live in a way that speaks of the importance of "being and presnece," not solely on "doing"
My own experience with Elsa is that "to meet her is to love her." One never meets her whithout being graced with her beautiful smile. Currently she volunteers at Assisi House, ministering to the needs of our retired sisters, particularly those who have Alzheimer's disease. Last month I did some volunteer work there and assisted Elsa with one of her sessions. She prayed with them, did a short reflection on prayer, and taught them a hymn in Spanish. She engaged the sisters in some simple (seated) exercises and then did a session of "aroma therapy" with them--simply letting them experience various floral scents in handlotions or smelling herbs from the garden.
When Sr. Elsa's not busy in Assisi House, she devotes her time to working with the Hispanic ministry in Delaware County--both in prayer gatherings and in home visits. Her hown Hispanic background and her years of ministering in her native Puerto Rico make her a natural for this.
Sr. Elsa devotes herself to those who are poor, lonely, and marginalized--always in a loving, gracious manner and with that ever-present smile!
When Sr. Elsa was in Puerto Rico, she started a Franciscan Companions in Mission group. With true collaborative spirit, she combined it with an already existing group of associates from the Buffalo Franciscans.
Sr. Elsa's home visits to members of the Hispanic community in Delaware county reflect her earlier parish ministry with families in Puerto Rico.
Whether she's accompanying the senior sisters on a field trip or serving the needs of young mothers at the Baby Cupboard in Chester, Elsa gifts each person with her grateful presence.
Sr. Elsa's presence speaks to those she serves--whether she's praying with the senior sisters, ministering to the spiritual needs of the Hispanic community, or celebrating Mardi Gras with her coworkers.