This morning I awoke late after a long night of sleep. I awoke not knowing anything about what the day would contain and to be honest the day was truly amazing. I awoke first to a bunch of text messages to our group chat, saying that we would be working with the Missionary Brothers of Charity, the male branch of Mother Theresa’s order. I got prepared and found a taxi waiting downstairs to take us to the brothers.
Upon arriving at the brothers, we were welcomed graciously by their residents, but we were still not aware of what we were doing. We found out that they take care of a group of men with disabilities and run a home for them. We were quickly shown around the house and then thrown right into the midst with these men, and it was amazing. Typically, one would think that people would not be so welcoming to a group of foreigners, and I was surprised, amazed and grateful that these men just came up to us and greeted us. Some of them even gave us a hug. The most striking part of this visit is that we helped these men with nothing, we were simply present to them. We didn’t feed them or help them do anything. Actually I think, other than playing some games with them, we just sat with them. A question came to my mind. Here we are sitting with these men, during a seminary class, and I wondered what was I supposed to learn here? What did God have in store for me? I found myself sitting with one man, and he wasn’t able to talk, so I wasn’t able to be with him in the way that I often think I will have to be as a priest, by teaching or preaching. All I could do was sit there with him, and the most profound thing happened: I discovered that was enough. This encounter reminded me of one of the encounters I had with my sister who has autism. She was playing with Legos and building different things, and then turned to me and asked me to sit next to her, but when I sat down and tried to help her build, she didn’t want that, she just wanted me to sit with her, and now I see why, because just the presence of another is enough. Here I found the lesson that God had been trying to teach me, that to be a priest, nay to even just be a human being, is first and foremost to be present to another person. To experience the fact of another person.
We finished our time at the brothers and I still had no clue what would happen the rest of the day, but this fact of presence would be confirmed again. Next, I went to have lunch in the local market here, and then we had a holy hour with some of the Missionaries of Charity and then Mass. After Mass though the sisters had a few surprises in store for us. I was able to go with the sisters and visit some of the poor in their neighborhood and we were able to hand out king’s cake and toys for the kids. It was so simple and yet so beautiful to see the joy and gratitude on the faces of those kids and their parents. After this wonderful adventure, one of the sisters took us to visit a family they are friends with. It was a sister, who was a nurse, and her two brothers whom she took care of. All we did was sit in their small house, and talk, and yet they could not stop thanking us. At the end of the visit I saw a woman so moved that she was in tears, and I could see that here was the power of God. That a group of Americans from the Midwest could visit a family and that family be so moved by that visit that it ends in tears, confirmed for me that the presence of God truly is in each of us, and that my presence and truly anyone’s presence is enough. This is most surely a classroom for life here in Mexico.
– Jacob Doty