Week 4: Starting close in with new goals

This week I’ve needed to feel many tears to move from dreams to goals. Here are some of my goals in the coming months:

Assist my dad’s caregiver to return to his home and assist him 2-3 hours each weekday. The pandemic has my elderly dad in a near panic about this, but hopefully my reading of the CDC guidelines for caregivers working safely inside a home and the three of us agreeing to these guidelines sets things up as best we can. There will always be risks. And there is the possibility that my mom and brother are already in conversation with God about when they can come for my dad. His health is not good, and he says he’s ready to join them whenever God calls, so I also need to be saying my emotional and spiritual goodbyes to my dad while being fully present to the time we have now. I also want to call a family meeting with my two sisters and brother to discuss options for dad’s care if his mobility further deteriorates. I feel called to take what I have learned in pastoral ministry at Dolores Mission of walking with families facing the impending death of a beloved elderly family member. Now it’s my turn to guide my family to journey with my dad who already has one foot in heaven.  

Keep encouraging a niece and nephew who have interviewed my dad about his life. Already they have interviewed him twice through zoom about his life in Cuba and about leaving Cuba. This has brought joy to my dad to be listened to with respect and interest by grandchildren. I love that my niece and nephew are learning a lot about my dad’s commitment to Catholic social justice, beginning with his teen years in Cuba.

Support the niece already living in my dad’s home to transition to her new social work internship and her second year of social work studies. Help another niece move into my dad and niece’s home in July for her post-high school gap year with City Year. Get the carpet in her room cleaned, paint her room, listen to her dreams for the coming year, and develop ideas for how to live well together in this newly configured family system.

Keep reaching out intentionally with my two sisters and one brother as we continue to grieve our youngest brother’s death of sudden heart failure. We are having many faith conversations about surrender, loss, the afterlife, relating to our brother in a new way, the communion of the saints, honoring his life, vulnerability, mystery.

This week I made a big decision which I shared with my Royal Palm group, and I am grateful for their good listening through my tears. I’ve decided that in the next 4-6 months I will transition out of Dolores Mission and move back to the East Coast. I have discerned my call to take all that I have been so blessed to learn at Dolores Mission and begin to integrate this with being more present to my family, extended family, and the Cuban American community. This week I made many calls to key staff members to prepare for the next 4-6 months, and I have been consoled by their loving appreciations of our collaborative work together these 12 years. I have many more calls to make, so I appreciate any readers keeping this news confidential. God willing, I can return to Los Angeles in August as part of my transition plan.

As I discern future new work, I want to set up 1 to 1 zoom meetings with key people in my life, including Jesuit women, to listen to their perspectives on the current state of the U.S. Catholic Church. How do we keep leaning into the controversial issues that are keeping the church from moving forward? How might the work of faith-based restorative justice lend a hand? As I listen for the sound of the genuine in me, what role could I imagine playing?

My spiritual director shared with me David Whyte’s poem, Start Close In. It is helping me to feel many emotions, including connecting with my courage and vulnerability, as I step into new goals. Here’s the link:  

6 thoughts on “Week 4: Starting close in with new goals

  1. Dearest Ellie,

    Oh, how I was afraid this was going to be your decision! Just when I was getting to know you and hoping that we could collaborate somehow. Yet, I so hear your heart’s desire to be with your family and minister to them. I commend you for listening to the voice within your own heart and deciding to take those first steps that will lead you to wherever God is leading you. I feel you and your pain in my own heart! Please know that if there is anything I can do to help you in any way, I’m here for you! I feel very close to you as we have shared in the dreams of the needs that Latina women need. Blessings to you, my sister in Christ!

    1. Hi Jenny, Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply. There are people at Dolores Mission I want to introduce you too. There are many women committed to the healing and empowerment of Latina women. Also, we organize an annual Women’s Conference with a series of health and well-being workshops, and I would love for you to offer a workshop at this event.

  2. Ellie — I’ve just come from a care-giving journey of my own that didn’t require leaving a beloved job and moving cross-country amid COVID while holding another loss. It was complicated and challenging enough. Still I treasure the grace of those days which rippled outward in surprising ways, then and now. It will be easy to hold you and yours in prayer since my granddaughter is also Ellie and I say her name early and often.

    Thank you too for sharing David Whyte’s poem. It will be helpful.

    1. Thank you Suzanne for speaking to the challenges of care-giving as well as the graces. It is an interesting project to lead my family in this effort while also growing in my call to be visible as a Catholic female wrestling with issues of women in church leadership. Lovely to know your granddaughter is also an Ellie.

  3. Sounds like you’re on your way…and I feel God’s movement in your story. And it’s inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story and the poem.
    Question: Jesuit women? Please tell me who they are! I feel like I’m one of those. Also, I’m very interested in the state of the Catholic Church. I hope I can be included in any conversation you may have. Perhaps after this workshop, we can gather all of us who have an interest in the Catholic Church.

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