by Christine Young, Bountiful, Utah
Vincentian Father G. Gregory Gay, C.M., Superior General of the Vincentians, visited the Ladies of Charity (LOC) of the Diocese of Salt Lake City and the Daughters of Charity at Saint Olaf Convent in September. Fr. Gay was re-elected in July 2010 for a six-year term as the worldwide superior general of the Congregation of the Mission, known as the Vincentian Priests and Brothers and the Daughters of Charity.
As Superior General, Fr. Gay wanted to visit Vincentian family members and branches of the Vincentians in “those places that are out-of-the way.” Before coming to Utah he visited the Daughters of Charity in Magadan, Russia and Anchorage. Fr. Gay has visited more than 90 countries in the last seven years. Accompanying him on his visit to Utah was Father Andrew Bellisario, Provincial Director, and Daughter of Charity Sister Marjorie Ann Baez, Provincial Superior from Los Altos Hills, CA.
They were given a tour of the Ladies of Charity Center of Hope and “Give Me a Chance,” located in Ogden and run by Daughter of Charity Sister Maria Nguyen. The Ladies of Charity “are doing excellent work” and Sr. Maria’s “Give Me a Chance program is fantastic,” Fr. Gay said. “The name Center of Hope is great because some people live in situations that are difficult,” Fr. Gay said. “It’s like an oasis in the middle of the desert where people can go to get a sense of hope and a sense of dignity as God’s children.” He noticed that as soon as somebody arrives, the ladies attend to them and show them care and concern.
“Sr. Maria is an immigrant herself from Vietnam and knows what it means to struggle to be recognized not only as a woman but as a person in society,” Fr. Gay said. “Most of the women are Hispanic, but they are also offered the opportunity to learn English. The more they can inculturate, the better opportunities will be for themselves and for their children. This work these women do gives them a sense of dignity and shows them they can be creative.” Sr. Maria is quoted as saying, “it’s degrading to just give people handouts, it’s better to give them a hand up.” According to Fr. Gay, “that’s systemic change, the basic Vincentian philosophy.”
Sister Germaine, Bountiful LOC Spiritual Moderator, was glad to share the works done in Ogden and Salt Lake with Father Gay and those accompanying him. Sister Germaine told Father Gay, “There are so many poor here, it’s nice to be able to help them as the Vincentian family does throughout the world.” Sr. Maria said, “Fr. Gay gave us encouragement to continue our work.” How special was this visit for all those involved. ?