A cup, such a simple mass of lines and arches. Each one is unique and different, yet they are the same in essence, open and ready to accept what the world has to offer. As Anne Catherine Mora and Clionadh Murtagh recently reflected upon their time serving as Incarnate Word Missionaries during Re-Entry Week, the cup – a major theme of the week – becomes more than a typical object.
Re-Entry Week is a time for the missionaries to transition back to their daily lives after their service has ended. Murtagh and Mora spent the time in reflection with Incarnate Word Missionaries (IWM) staff and with CCVI sisters in San Antonio. Women’s Global Connection manages the IWM program in partnership with the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.
Murtagh, a 23-year-old native of County Roscommon, Ireland, served as the reading and art specialist at Inner City Development, a longtime community-based nonprofit based in the near Westside San Antonio. Inner City responds to emergency, educational, and recreational needs of the underserved and economically disadvantaged neighborhood.
While working with the families and children, Murtagh said she experienced a culture-within-a culture.
“It’s two different worlds. The Westside of San Antonio compared to other parts of the city feels like a different place completely because the experiences, stories, and situations are just so opposite. You take in the needs, the struggles and the backgrounds of the people around you, and you reassess everything.”
Miles away in Chimbote, Peru, Mora – who lives in San Antonio and is of French descent – was serving as a missionary for the WGC Women’s Economic Development Program, which works to empower, educate and support women’s business collectives. Mora worked alongside the women of Pushaq Warmi, a group focused on social advocacy and artisan crafts.
“There’s an abundance of need, and the people are so thankful that you give up a year of your life just to serve them,” Mora said. “As someone who has been fortunate enough to live in many countries, I realize that I’ve never actually been poor like the people in Peru. I see that, compared to the West, these people have real needs. It’s given me a new perspective that even though we’re different…we’re also similar in essence and in needs.”
During Re-Entry Week, Mora and Murtagh came to the understanding that their shared experiences had helped them learn and grow.
“Being a missionary is about love, hope, faith, and more importantly acceptance,” said Mora. “This was something new, and it was scary, but it pushed my creativity. You have to reassess, reinvent, and question things to get through the new situations. You have to have a higher consciousness and be understanding of what other people are going through.”
While the women have taken much away from their service as Incarnate Word Missionaries, they spent Re-Entry Week conferring on their experiences by swimming, praying, and meditating with WGC and with numerous members of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. They shared their stories, reflected with Sr. Alice Holden at the Interfaith Spiritual Center, and created clay cups as an extended representation of their experiences and service. They also shared their journeys with the CCVI/WGC community during a special luncheon presentation.
Mora and Murtagh learned that the symbolism of the cup is conceivably grand. Just like a cup, Mora urged others to look for and have depth in all things. For her, the most important way to do things is with love.
Murtagh, too, wanted others to know that persistence can pay off on both individual and societal levels.
“Educate yourself and work hard. Be ‘woke’ in your experiences and have understanding because it’s easy to start something, but harder to continue it,” said Murtagh.
Both women said the week of reflection helped them outwardly share what they have internalized throughout their IWM service. Just like a cup, they said, they’ll use their connections to spill over in future service to others.
By ELIZABETH MORALES
WGC Communications Intern