First, I am a married mother of 4 beautiful young adults. I am also Mexican American. I am also a pediatrician. As a pediatrician I spend one on one time with kids and their families providing medical care but also listening to their stories. I work at a federally qualified health center in Oakland, California. More than 90% of our families are underinsured or have MediCal. Many of the kids we serve qualify for free or reduced lunch. Many of the families we see our homeless or at risk for homelessness. Our families come from all over Alameda County and are quite ethnically diverse. We see recent immigrants from Central America, the Middle East and East Africa. We have many kids who are in foster care. We also see many kids with both physical and mental disabilities. We see kids who struggle with mental illness as well.
Since October of last year I have been journeying with Companions in Ignatian Service and Spirituality. It is a program to deepen awareness and love of God through accompanying the poor and marginalized and also engaging with fellow Companions in dialogue prayer and reflection rooted in the Spiritual Exercises. I have learned how to really accompany and walk side by side those I work with. It has changed how I was practicing medicine. I am no longer just giving and going home. This was leading to burn out as so many in medicine have been experiencing. I am walking along side and trying to really “see and look into the eyes of everyone” I work with. “I see you” has been my new mantra. “To look for God’s face in everyone we meet” has also taken on a new meaning. At this moment in time in what I have heard be called “the Great Pause” or the “Time to Kneel”, I would like to find a way to share more of what I am hearing and praying.
My experience within my church community of St Theresa has been teaching ,participating in the liturgy of mass as a Lector and a Eucharistic minister, and leading students in our church’s mission project to build houses with a group called Corazon in Mexico.
I have been a teacher for our young ones, but also they have been my teachers. My years teaching confirmation to teenagers inspired me to look at my faith deeper and to be a part of the changes that I would like to see in our institution of the church for the future.
In contemplating my next journey I sought out spiritual direction and found that my prayers and discernment led me to the inspiring model of St. Mary Magdalene as the apostle to the apostles. I meditated on her hands that are visible in many photos as she points or gestures or blesses the good news of the resurrection. I also contemplated the words of Jesuit Fr. Arupe, “ Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quiet absolute , final way, what you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know and what breaks your heart and what amazes you…”
Mary Magdalene’s apostolic life and falling more in love with all that is the Eucharist, became my prayer and I was drawn to wanting to imitate Christ in loving, teaching and serving and anointing. When I learned that Pope Francis was forming a commission on the women diaconate, I prayed about this next path and tried to discern God’s call.
I feel a call to the diaconate. But maybe it isn’t supposed to be in a neat new box prepared by the church saying “here it is” what “we have put together for you.” Maybe instead it is more a “movement”. I know many of us are hearing the spirit calling. It is “knocking”; it is “light”; it is “a warmth in our heart”; it is “fire”; it is “a glow”; it is “wind”; it is ” a whisper”; it is “just knowing to our core.” I think it is time to enter the upper room and let the spirit guide me/us.
Ready to enter into prayer. Not sure I have a grand scheme to give. But will ask for God’s grace and give a full heart. My prayer for myself and for all of us is the we embody Mary Magdalene’s words: “I have seen the Lord” as we tell our stories and share our hearts.
My mighty cloud of witnesses, that I can call upon to intercede, to give me strength and encouragement–My mother Antonia Tinajero; My mother in law Sylvia Deck; My spiritual director Cindy; My mentors Sharon , Nina , and Laura; My sisters: Laura, Janet, Melanie and Anna. My saints- St. Mary Magdalene, the Hemorrhaging Woman, St. Ignatius, Dorothy Day, Harriet Tubman, and St. Juan Diego . And of course Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The Upper Room- Jerusalem