Random Nun Clips

Rebuilding a family

Podcast Recorded: August 22, 2022
sisters embrace

How do young women seeking asylum in the United States end up at Bethany House of Hospitality – and what happens to them from there? Sister Pat Crowley shares some stories.

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Show Notes

Listen to the full episode of In Good Faith podcast here: https://anunslife.org/podcasts/in-good-faith/igf057-pat-crowley

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Transcript (Click for More)+

Sister Rejane  
This Random Nun Clip is brought to you by A Nun's Life Ministry. I'm Sister Rejane of A Nun's Life Ministry. Our guest today is Sister Pat Crowley, a Benedictine Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, Illinois. Following in her parents' footsteps, Pat herself has a heart for social justice and the Benedictine rule. Living through the changes of Vatican II Pat found she has a gift for being an administrator, leading her into 42 years of meaningful ministry, especially in the realm of homelessness. Sister Pat brought together a group of women religious leaders from many congregations to found Bethany House, a shelter for young women seeking asylum. an you share a story about one of the young women who's lived at Bethany house?

Sister Pat  
Oh, sure. There's some very dramatic stories. I'll tell you two of them. One of them -- let's call her Elizabeth. She came from Africa to Brazil, with her father, mother, and a younger sibling, I think a brother. They were having a difficult time in Brazil. And so the father decided that the father and Elizabeth would go to the border of the United States. And then they would find someplace to be and live and bring the mother and the younger child there. Well, the father and Elizabeth set out through the Darien Gap, which is the connection between Colombia and Panama, and jungle, dangerous, and I presume with a coyote, I don't know that.

Sister Rejane  
For our audience, coyote is someone who is like the leader or the guide.

Sister Pat  
Correct. And paid big money.

Sister Rejane  
Yes. To bring them from their country of origin to the US.

Sister Pat  
And not always, not always honest. Yeah, but so anyway, to make a long story short, they were crossing a river and the father, Elizabeth's father died. Drowned. So she's, at the time 16 years old. And so she proceeds with the group, and comes to a children's center. And when she's 18, she's released to Bethany House. And she's doing well now. But the problem is that the Red Cross cannot locate her mother and her younger sibling, so she has no contact with them. She doesn't really know where they are. And she's from Central Africa. One of the sisters, who's from Uganda, somehow has a house where she rents rooms to immigrants. So Elizabeth moved out of Bethany House eventually. She graduated from high school, got her high school diploma when she was at Bethany House. And then she moved with Stella. And so she's doing well. She's working. She has a work permit. So that's one story. Just to demonstrate the trauma. The other story I'll share with you -- there's so many that come to mind. But there were four sisters from, let's say, a southern Asian country. And their father had trafficked the oldest one to help a gambling problem. The mother had left the family. And so the oldest one, and I don't know how old she was, escaped. And she came back and took her younger sisters across the country to a grandmother's house. And the grandmother apparently must have had a little money. And she decided that they should come to the United States. The mother's had Canada, remarried, I don't know that whole story. Anyway, the four sisters arrived on March 20 at the border. They had come through Brazil and up, walking through countries. And of course, that was when COVID shut everybody down in 2020. And so they were separated. The oldest two were put in a for-profit prison for immigrants. The youngest one was put in a children's center, run by the government, and then the18-year-old was released to us somehow, miraculously. So to make a long story short, they were all reunited through Bethany House.

Sister Rejane  

Sister Pat  
There are many more details to that. And now they are living in a four-bedroom apartment on the northwest side of Chicago, living together and working. And the two older ones just got asylum.

Sister Rejane  
Oh, great.

Sister Pat  
The two younger ones are still waiting. Yeah. So that's kind of an amazing phenomenon.

Sister Rejane  
To hear full episodes of A Nun's Life podcasts, visit the podcast page at anunslife.org/podcasts.

This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.

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